You probably forgot that Dick Gautier once filled in briefly as Batman
When Adam West left the Bat Cave behind, the actor who played everything from Conrad Birdie to Fonzie's worst nightmare stepped in.
In 1971, Adam West was done being Batman.
"I knew it was going to be hard to live down such a strong identification," West told a TV columnist syndicated in The Newspaper Enterprise Association that year. "But it's been even harder than I anticipated. And today the series is being widely rerun, so I'm still identified with Batman."
This was three years past the series end, but the action series maintained a wide fan base, and that year, an idea was floated to use the popular characters of Batgirl, Batman, and Robin to run a public service announcement raising awareness for a movement to secure equal pay for women.
In the PSA, Batman and Robin are tied up, and Batgirl appears.
"Untie us before it's too late," Batman commands Batgirl.
"It's already too late," Batgirl retorts, refusing to set them free until Batman agrees to give her a raise. "I've worked for you a long time, and I'm paid less than Robin!"
The PSA was promoting awareness of the federal equal pay law, and it ends with a cliffhanger to tune in tomorrow to find out if Batman does his duty and gives Batgirl what she’s owed.
West refused to do this PSA, not because of politics, but because he just didn't want to be Batman anymore.
For that reason, they needed a new Batman, just for this PSA, and a different familiar face from the 1960s stepped in.
Dick Gautier is an actor perhaps best recognized as the original Conrad Birdie on Broadway, but for TV fans, he'll likely always be associated with his popular robot character "Hymie" on Get Smart. The character was so good, it was originally written to appear in only three episodes, but writers soon pulled in Gautier for three more.
Unlike West, Gautier was known not for heroic good looks or dashing action scenes when he rose to fame, but rather, he rose up as a stand-up comedian in nightclubs.
"I only cared about being funny at first," Gautier told The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette in 1981. "I thought I was homely. I still can't accept it gracefully when people say I am good-looking."
In his TV career, Gautier starred in a couple of short-lived series, became a well-liked game show host, and played comedic roles on hit sitcoms like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bewitched, The Flying Nun, and Happy Days — where he memorably played Fonzie's "worst nightmare," a mad scientist intent on draining Fonzie of what makes him cool. (Ayyy!)
He also made appearances through the 1980s on drama and action shows like Wonder Woman, Charlie's Angels, and Murder, She Wrote. After that, he started doing voice acting. At the same time, he also proved to be a talented songwriter, screenwriter, and portrait painter.
He became a hugely recognizable figure in pop culture, but under the Batman mask in the PSA, Gautier proved he also made for a passable knock-off Adam West. It's likely some Batman fans didn't pay close enough attention to even realize it wasn't the same actor.
Before he became an actor, Gautier was just a kid who grew up just outside Hollywood studios, where his dad worked as a technician and his mother worked in wardrobe. He never planned to be an actor, moving to New York and doing everything from demonstrating pogo sticks to sandblasting rough city surfaces.
"Anything for a buck," he told The Eagle-Gazette.
But looking back on his success as a leading man, comedic charmer, and even one-time Batman, Gautier later recognized that acting was in his blood from a young age and he just didn't realize it.
"It's a funny thing," Gautier said. "I was turned on as a ham before I was even aware that my parents worked in a movie studio."