We have some sad news to report: Lorenzo Semple, Jr., creator of the 1966 “Batman” TV series and film (starring Adam West and Burt Ward) turned 91 on Thursday then died on Friday, March 28th at his home in Los Angeles.
As a guest writer for Variety back in 2008, he wrote a piece called Requiem for a cheeky ‘Batman’ in which he talks about executive producer William Dozier pitching the show to ABC and how it caught on like a house on fire.
Bill eloquently pitched the script and its high-camp POW!! BLAM!! WHAMMO!! style, those onscreen graphics already written in. The network was a bit flabbergasted, so different was this from their usual pilot, but they got it.
And on the subject of the “Batman” series’ three season run:
For a time, Hollywood’s brightest stars vied for a chance to appear in the 30-second cameos Bill so shrewdly inserted. Despite efforts to juice it up with a Batgirl and a Batcycle and other ornaments, the series was a one-trick pony at heart, and barely staggered through a second season.
But “Batman” wasn’t the only epic thing this storied screenwriter has worked on. Semple is also known for his work on “The Green Hornet” (which also aired in 1966 and starred Bruce Lee as Kato), Papillon (1973), Three Days Of The Condor (1975), King Kong (1976) and the unofficial 007 film Never Say Never Again (1983).
He’s also the man behind one of my favorite comic book movie adaptations EVER: the 1980 classic Flash Gordon, starring Sam Jones and Max Von Sydow!
And as if THAT weren’t enough, for the last six years Semple worked on was a series with former studio exec Marcia Nasatir called Reel Geezers, described as “Two octogenarians who are veterans in the movie biz give hilarious and insighful reviews of the latest movies.”
Here they are in 2008 reviewing, appropriately enough, The Dark Knight:
It seems like the Semple talent was passed down to his two children including his daughter, Maria, a writer-producer who’s worked on hit shows “Mad About You,” “Suddenly Susan,” and “Arrested Development.”
91 seems like a good age to do a little interstellar traveling. Goodspeed, Sir Semple.
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