By Joel Eisner
As the second season drew to a close, the producers decided that a new character should be added to help raise Batman’s sagging ratings. So Batgirl, who made her first comic book appearance in early 1967, entered the Bat-World.
While the pilot was not long enough to air as a regular part of the series, and Killer Moth was by far one of the weakest villains yet (Killer Moth was far more formidable in the comics and had a better costume), it was enough to prove to the executives at ABC that Batgirl should join the series.
Actress Yvonne Craig remembers how she joined the show: “Mr. Dozier and Howie told me that the character was aimed at a prepubescent female audience and an over-40 male audience. Now, I understood the over-40 part, but I wasn’t certain that they had their finger on the pulse of pre-pubescent females. I figured that pre-pubescent girls probably thought Robin was cute, or else they had a crush on Batman and would resent my character. It turned out that they were right. Whenever I did public appearances, it was the little girls who came up to me. Once one of them said to me, ‘Miss Craig, from now on, every time I see someone kicked in the face, I’ll think of you.’ I know she meant it as a compliment, but I was horrified.”“Howie was a funny man; he had a wife and three daughters, and he wanted them all to be very feminine. So, he specifically said that Batgirl was not to do any karate, kung fu, any sort of martial arts-type stuff. That wasn’t ladylike to him. I was allowed to kick the bad guys in a sort of high-kick, ballet manner—my ballet training really came in handy—or spin into them and waste them, but I was supposed to be able to sneak out of their grasp before any punches were thrown. Consequently, I had an easier time talking Howie into letting me do my own stunts.” “For the pilot film, I wore a mask with pointed edges that left marks on my cheeks and made me look as though I had been crying for a week. They changed it for the series. (They also cut the eyeholes bigger in all the masks, because anytime Adam took a step forward, it was an act of faith, as he absolutely couldn’t see in his cowl.} “I was terribly excited about going to work. I woke up, rushed to the bathroom—and promptly slammed my foot into a chair and broke my little toe. Since it was understood that I was going to be doing my own stunts on the show, I was told that I was to jump through a candy glass window as part of this presentation film. I did the stunt on the first take, and the stunt supervisor was so happy for me that he ran over to hug me—and stepped on my broken toe! ‘As I was getting dressed to change into the Barbara Gordon character, Howie, who felt that I shouldn’t be doing my own stunts, looked and saw that I was purple up to my ankle. And he figured I did it doing the stunt; there was no convincing him otherwise. So, he told me they were going to hire a stunt girl for me, which they did—for two segments. She got another job and I went back to doing what I wanted to do.” “In the pilot Batgirl was a little saucier, she had a touch of Eve Arden. She wasn’t exactly condescending to Batman, but she had a ‘I’m better able to do things than you are’ attitude, treating him as if he were less than capable and finding it amusing. He was also somewhat sexy; he appealed to her.” Unfortunately, the reduction to only one show a week hurt the romantic relationship as Yvonne realized, “Between Adam and Burt Ward and me and Alan Napier and my father and the police chief and the guest star, if they just said hello to one another, you filled up a half-hour. My relationship with Batman became more one-dimensional, which was OK, since it was a comic book.”
Prior to her involvement with the series, Yvonne’s only reaction to her future costars Adam West “was the fact that the guy who played Batman had a paunch. I recall saying to myself, ‘I can’t believe that this guy has a big stomach in certain shots.’ What I didn’t realize then, of course, was that it was Adam’s stunt double. “I finally met Adam West when we shot the presentation film. . He has this wonderfully dry sense of humor. He said to me, ‘Oh, .You have. ballet dancer’s. legs. I like...ballet dancer’s. legs..” “He was charming.. Later he said ‘Make sure that I don’t block your key light, I’m very broad-shouldered.’ And I thought, ‘Shouldn’t somebody else be saying that?’ But, it turned out that it was not vanity on his part, : he is very broad-shouldered. When I stood behind him, I looked like I was in black-face: there was no light. I also realized that Adam had a very nice physique. It was Hubie Kearns, his stunt double, who was about 30 years older than Adam, who had the gut.”
"Burt Ward was wary. I started to shake hands with him when we were introduced, but he didn’t offer his hand to me. I found that really peculiar. Knowing that this was the first job he had ever had, I think he felt threatened. But it was the only time he was anything less than wonderful. Once shooting was underway, he seemed to warm up to me. And he was a doll from that day forward.”