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."

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Dave62 19 months ago
Where can I get the me tv plus app.
WilliamCole 24 months ago
Anyone know who the Zayre Batman was? Like the updated 70's-80's costume
RedSamRackham 24 months ago
* An early pilot for the 1966 Batman series had Lyle Waggoner as Batman. He looked more like the 1950's comic book version with the big black bat chest logo (no yellow oval). His Batman might've been a more serious non-campy version.
35 months ago
I remember him best as "Hymie," on Get Smart.
RobertM 35 months ago
He was also in the 1970's version of "Match Game" as well an episode of the 1980's sitcom "Too Close for Comfort", not to mention "Matlock".
AnnaRentzVandenhazel 35 months ago
Actually, I didn't know it was a different actor. I was 6 years old when the Batman series ended, and 9 or 10 when I saw the "Equal Pay" commercial. I thought Batman's voice was a little different, but chalked it up to poor memory since I hadn't heard Adam West speak for 3-4 years.
Runeshaper 35 months ago
Hymie!!! That's AWESOME! I wish MeTV could provide a link to the commercial he was in, if it was archived somewhere. That would be a nice addition to articles such as there (-:

*Props to @denny for sharing it!
denny 35 months ago
Mannixishot denny 35 months ago
He does a pretty good job copying Adam's voice. I don't think ever watched anything with Dick in it so I'm not sure if that's his normal voice or if he studied Adam long enough to be able to nail the take.

As for Adam, I don't blame him for not coming back for the ad. It's disappointing he got lumped in with being a hammy actor because of the Batman tv series. I've seen him on "The Rifleman" and "Mannix" and he's a good actor.
denny 35 months ago
The PSA would've been better if they were talking about women's lib and Batgirl would've burned her bra.
ncadams27 35 months ago
I didn’t know that Robin and Batgirl worked for Batman. Maybe that’s why they enter the Batcave in a clock - so Robin can punch-in.
Michael 35 months ago
They really should have done an ad with Dick Gautier, John Astin, and Lee Meriweather and one of the Mr Freezes (three actors, two episodes each).
Wiseguy Michael 35 months ago
An ad for what? And it's Meriwether, not Meriweather.
Wiseguy 35 months ago
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Dave62 Wiseguy 35 months ago
It's Merriweather
Moody Dave62 35 months ago
A simple Google search will tell you it's Meriwether.
David stephaniestavr5 34 months ago
If you are going to post a public comment that includes a person's name, regardless of their celebrity status, it's s simple matter of showing respect by getting their name correct! And you read A LOT MORE into what Wiseguy said than was actually said, He said, "An ad for what? And it's Meriwether, not Meriweather." How did you see THIS in his comment? "She would have them shackled in irons, lock them in a dungeon and throw away the key! Which sounds exactly what you would like to see happen to Michael, or anyone that makes a grammatical error." Seriously, his comment wasn't hostile or as RUDE and ignorant as yours "lady".
Jimo 35 months ago
Doda doda doda doda......BATMAN!
Catman 35 months ago
Well I never saw that PSA but this is a great article. Thanks for the trivia!
Catman 35 months ago
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denny Catman 35 months ago
I just posted it above.
JoeSHill 35 months ago
Dick Gautier was indeed a fine actor with great credentials, like the 1975 ABC/Paramount TV series, "WHEN THINGS WERE ROTTEN", But one of Dick Gautier's other talents was his skill in artistic caricatures, and this man was damned good at this art, and even did a book on this artistic skill, and he's almost as good as legendary caricature artist, Jack Davis, who was famous for his commercial art!
F5Twitster 35 months ago
Okay, Dick, if it'll make you happy, you're the homeliest man who ever lived.
Tresix 35 months ago
I remember learning that it was Gautier and not West in that ad on one of those “before they were stars” specials. This isn’t Gautier’s only Batman connection: He voiced several characters on “Batman: The Animated Series”.
Zip 35 months ago
Interesting. I never knew he played Batman at all. But remembering seeing him act on other shows I think he would have been pretty good as Batman.
Zip 35 months ago
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Moody stephaniestavr5 35 months ago
To me, Frank Gorshin has always been the best Riddler. I thought his characterization was much better than John Astin's. But that's just my opinion.
AgingDisgracefully 35 months ago
Dick Gautier's Greatest Hymie-on-Get-Smart Moment*:
Max: Answer the door, Hymie.
Hymie: Yes, door.

(*Though many argue it was the movies he supplied for Max's bachelor party: Holland - Land of Dikes and Tulips, Up The Colorado By Kayak and The Wonderful World of Zinc.)
Wiseguy AgingDisgracefully 35 months ago
Who's arguing about this?
AgingDisgracefully Wiseguy 35 months ago
Perhaps not in your orbit of wisdom, but at The Barbershop of Shrill Shouting the debate continues.
Parse on, Terranova!
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