A few years back I spoke with actor Kip King and singer/actress Donna Loren, both of who played Joker henchmen in an early BATMAN episode in 1966. Here are portions of our talks pertinent to that experience.
Kip King On His Batman Role
B-Wow. Well, let's move up to 1966. What about BATMAN?
B-Were you familiar with the show at all? Had it already become the phenomenon that it became?
K-It was JUST hitting its peak. A friend of mine, Stanley Ralph Ross, had written some of the scripts. I don't know if you know who he is?
B-Oh, of course!
K-He was a good friend and he just called Larry Stewart who I knew from before and he was casting it and Larry called me in for this BATMAN show and I had seen it. I liked it and I read for this and...you know it just fit like a glove. It just was one of those things! I've done several shows that just fit! MY FAVORITE MARTIAN and a lot of work on the Desilu lot after I did a lot of live TV. I did all the live shows for seven years. Then I started doing filmed stuff like BEN CASEY...well, anyway, let's stick with Desilu. Well this wasn't Desilu, this was...
K-Yeah. Where I did TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH. So....I got the part and it just turned out to be enormously supportive. The rest of the cast except for Cesar Romero who was pretty much of an asshole.
K-Well, okay, I won't call him an asshole. He wasn't a bad guy. He just was removed. Didn't want to participate with anyone else. "AH, yah! This make-up hurts. I'll do it and get outa here!" He didn't visit. So strike "asshole." Sorry, folks. Cesar Romero was not an asshole!
I wrote THE BETTY HUTTON SHOW...I'm sorry to keep digressing but I was hired as an actor, became her lover and wrote the show so that's an interesting story in itself.
B-I was going to ask how you got involved in writing and why you never did more of it.
K-(laughter) Well, because I wrote during the writers' strike! Wasn't a member of the union!
B-Thaaaat would explain that.
K-Well, I wrote this show for her and Cesar Romero and (on BATMAN) I said, "I wrote that show for you, remember?" and he said, (in Cesar Romero's voice), "I do so many." The Joker worked very well for him, though, didn't it?
B-That's very true but according to some sources, that role was originally meant for Jose Ferrer!
K-Was it?? (laughter)
B-That's what I've read.
K-Quite possibly true. He didn't do any of those though, did he?
B-No, which is too bad because his son, Miguel, went on to be a big comics fan. Imagine if his dad had been the Joker! Up close could you see Cesar's mustache?
K-Oh, of course.
B-Maybe it's because I was a kid but I never did and now that's all I see when I look at him in that makeup! My son and I have been watching a lot of old episodes lately.
K-How old's your son?
K-Oh my God, cool!
B-The whole thing is that some of them were just ridiculous and silly but the early ones especially were really entertaining and good! Most of the humor in them came from everybody being serious. You, on the ot
her hand, actually managed to be funny in it on purpose.
K-This was an ideal situation, to play a character who was...well, to play a character! Literally, a character. I WAS serious but I was able to do it in and out of the box at the same time.
B-Well, it stands out because so many of the other episodes those henchmen are just there. Sometimes two, sometimes four.You never know anything about them but their names and that's often only because they wear them on their shirts! But you actually got in a characterization.
K-Yeah, it really worked. I mean, I had a crush on Donna Loren....my character did. Everything was working. Also, we all got along very well. Would you know who that other guy was...the big guy who played the oaf with me? I can't remember his name.
K-Very nice. Quite removed and I know very much into psychedelics I think.
B-Well, it was that time, wasn't it?
K-Adam I knew from THE DETECTIVES and he was one of the nicest people I know. He had a sense of humor about his lack of ability all the time. Ever since he started. I mean, he has made a living NOT doing it well! BATMAN worked out so well for him it just was a miracle. It's wonderful. He's the sweetest guy in the world. He'll do anything Cesar Romero didn't do!
B-I remember at the time we all believed in Batman. All of us kids took him seriously when he said, "Make sure you buckle your seat belts, citizens," and all that. Wasn't like he was being silly at all or being ironic about it.
K- It was good stuff. Worked on so many levels.
B-During the fight scenes, how much of that was you and how much stuntmen?
K-I would say, almost 50-50. Obviously the close-ups were me. The heavy stuff was the stuntmen. I took the last few punches and fell but the medium and long shots were them.
B-When they did the two episodes that were on Wednesday and Thursday, did they shoot them as one and just cut them into two?
K-No, each part was shot...part one first, then part two.
Donna Loren On Her Role In the Same Episode:
B-I'm surprised you didn't do more as an actress. You really had a good delivery. In the BATMAN episodes for instance, I thought you were great. Really fun and funny! You had a real character and funny lines and you stood up to the Joker.
B-What did you think of Cesar Romero?