It's about Bat-time! After being held up for decades due to brand-ownership and rights issues, the original 1966-68 Batman live-action TV series is being released on DVD and Blu-ray as a box set on Nov. 11 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. And it will be loaded up like Batman's utility belt with knockout extras, such as a complete episode guide and more than three hours of bonus features. While many of the legendary actors who played the show's colorful villains — including Cesar Romero (the Joker), Burgess Meredith (the Penguin), and Frank Gorshin (the Riddler) — have gone to the great Batcave in the sky, we were able to snag an exclusive sit-down with surviving stars Adam West (Batman), 86; Burt Ward (Robin), 69; and Julie Newmar (Catwoman), 81, at July's Comic-Con International in San Diego.
TV Guide Magazine: Having been a Bat-family for nearly half a century, you have unfortunately had to say goodbye to many of your costars over the years. Adam, weren't you at Frank Gorshin's bedside when he died?
West: I hate to talk about sad things like that, but I will tell you there was a heart monitor near Frank's head, and to cheer him up, we superimposed his face onto the screen. I said, "Frank — look! You're on TV." And he passed away watching himself on television. Isn't that incredible?
Newmar: Nobody could do what Frank did. He was very slender and electric in his movements.
TV Guide Magazine: In these remastered episodes, fans can now clearly see the mustache Cesar Romero wore under his Joker face paint.
Newmar: He wouldn't let [producers] shave it off. [When he was] 23, he was in love with a woman who was 10 years older, and he wanted to impress her by looking more elegant.
West: Cesar thought he had to have that mustache for his reputation as the great Latin lover.
TV Guide Magazine: The show seemed to attract many gay actors, including Cesar, to play some of its most flamboyant villains. Was it the colorful costumes that they were attracted to? [Laughs]
West: When Liberace came on the set, he'd walk around the stage trying so hard to be tough. [Imitates Liberace's voice] "Adam, Burt — I'm going to hit you with my candelabra."
Newmar: Do you know why they invented Dick Grayson's Aunt Harriet character [played by Madge Blake]? So it would not look like Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson were gay.
West: Yes, it was to assuage feelings that these two guys were running around with each other. She would check on them and tuck them in —
Ward: — to see who was in whose bed at night. [A newspaper] ran a major story written by a psychiatrist during our first season analyzing Batman and Robin's relationship. We always asked, "What's so strange about two guys running around wearing tights and living together?"
TV Guide Magazine: Adam, I heard you saved Madge from being fired.
West: I did. She had a difficult time memorizing some of the lines, and they were going to let her go. But we recognized her [broken] delivery made that character. And it became funny and wonderful.
TV Guide Magazine: Tell me about Burgess Meredith.
West: As Penguin, he utilized a cigarette holder, and as we stood face-to-face, he would blow smoke under my cowl, which was extremely irritating.
Newmar: He had given up smoking and told producers, "If I get back smoking again, I'm going to sue you!" He was very worried about that.
TV Guide Magazine: Julie played Catwoman as if she had the hots for Batman.
West: Julie and I decided early on that to make it interesting there would have to be sexual tension between them.
TV Guide Magazine: Many beautiful women guest-starred over the show's three seasons. Adam and Burt, did you romance any costars?
West: Not really. I've always made it a practice not to date leading ladies. I was married...
Newmar: ...Three times!
West: But during Batman, I was not married.
TV Guide Magazine: What are you three doing now?
West: I still recur on Family Guy [as animated Mayor Adam West] and have several other voiceover projects.
Newmar: I'm making videos I post on Facebook [featuring her son, John, 33, who has Down syndrome].
Ward: I rescue dogs and try to give them a future.
West: I will tell you, I've tried Burt's [Gentle Giants] line of dog food, which promises a longer life. So, Burt, could I have another doggy yummy, please?
Check out an exclusive clip from Batman: The Complete TV Series: