Batman's first onscreen girlfriend changed her name to appear in Svengoolie's The Land Unknown
Shirley Patterson revived her career as Shawn Smith… until a freak skiing accident.
Images: The Everett Collection
In the annals of Batman lore, the name Linda Page does not rank high. No, it is not the alias of some costumed villain who ran off with diamonds in some elaborate heist. Linda Page was a Gotham City socialite and elder-care nurse who stole Bruce Wayne's heart. You have to have been a fan of the Caped Crusader from the very beginning to remember the character.
Linda Page first appeared in the pages of Batman No. 5 in 1941. The redhead continued to pop up as a love interest for Batman in the comics for the next couple of years. But it was in 1943 that Linda Page made her biggest splash.
Columbia Pictures adapted Batman for the big screen with a 15-part serial that ran in theaters throughout 1943. In the film, Batman (Lewis Wilson) and Robin (Douglas Croft) must rescue Linda (Shirley Patterson) from the clutches of the evil Dr. Daka. You can see the Dark Knight freeing her up above.
Born to a druggist in Saskatchewan, Patterson moved to California as a young child. She won the junior archery championship of California and later earned the sash of Miss California of 1940.
The Batman role was a breakthrough of sorts for the Canadian actress. That same year, Patterson appeared in The Texas Kid as "Nancy Drew" — no, not that Nancy Drew. Westerns proved to be a cozy fit for Patterson. Throughout wartime, she continued to appear in oaters, typically alongside Eddie Dean. Then, in 1947, she made her final picture with Dean, Black Hills.
It would also be the last time she audiences would see "Shirley Patterson" — though the actress would return to the screen for several roles in the 1950s. She merely changed her name.
Patterson had married a businessman named Alfred Smith. He objected to her screen career, and she stepped away from acting and had a child. At last, when her boy had reached the age of five, Smith relented and allowed his wife to return to her career. Thus, her second life as "Shawn Smith" began.
As Shawn Smith, Patterson became a fixture in sci-fi B-movies. She starred in the astronaut time-travel flick World Without End (1956), and the Martian monster thriller It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958).
Between the two, and on Svengoolie, she can be found in The Land Unknown (1957), a fantastic adventure set in a prehistoric pocket of an Antarctic crater. That's her, the blonde screaming in a tangle of vines, up top on the right.
Alas, her revival was short-lived, due to a skiing accident. A terrible spill on the slopes fractured her leg in nine places. She was in a cast for nearly two years, and subsequently had difficulty performing the physical mandates of a screen star.
But at least she divorced Alfred Smith.