‘Batman’ TV show creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91

March 28, 2014 | 5:07 p.m.
batmen Batman TV show creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91

Click through the gallery for a look back at the actors who have donned Batman's iconic cape and cowl over the years.

1lewisgwilson1 Batman TV show creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91

In his first screen appearance, Batman was played by Lewis Wilson. "Batman," a 15-chapter serial released in 1943 by Columbia Pictures, pit Wilson's Batman and Douglas Croft's Robin against Japanese spymaster Dr. Daka during World War II. (Columbia Pictures / Getty Images)

2robertlowery Batman TV show creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91

Columbia released another 15-chapter serial, "Batman and Robin," in 1949. In this version, Robert Lowery played Batman and Johnny Duncan played Robin. (Columbia Pictures / Getty Images)

3adamwest Batman TV show creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91

For many Batfans, Adam West was the iconic Caped Crusader. West and Robin actor Burt Ward played the crimefighting duo in "Batman," a television series that ran from 1966 to 1968. The show, which earned three Emmy nominations, also spawned a movie, marking the first time the DC hero got his own feature-length film. (20th Century Fox)

4michaelkeaton1 Batman TV show creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91

After more than two decades off the big screen, Tim Burton reimagined the DC hero in 1989's "Batman," starring Michael Keaton. The movie, which won an Oscar for art direction, famously starred Jack Nicholson as the villainous Joker. Keaton reprised the role in 1992's "Batman Returns," starring opposite Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman. (Warner Bros.)

5valkilmer1 Batman TV show creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91

In 1995, director Joel Schumacher offered up a campier take on the hero in "Batman Forever." Val Kilmer played Batman, Chris O'Donnell played Robin and Jim Carrey played the Riddler -- one of many villains the hero faces off against in the film. (Warner Bros.)

6georgeclooney Batman TV show creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91

Two years later, George Clooney donned the batsuit in Schumacher's 1997 follow-up "Batman & Robin." O'Donnell reprised his role as Robin, and Arnold Schwarzenegger played the nefarious Mr. Freeze. (Warner Bros.)

7christianbale1 Batman TV show creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91

In 2005, Christopher Nolan rebooted the Batman franchise with "Batman Begins," starring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and his cape-wearing alter-ego. Bale reprised the role in 2008's "The Dark Knight," opposite Heath Ledger's Joker, and 2012's "The Dark Knight Rises." The critically acclaimed films were box-office juggernauts. (Warner Bros.)

batman Batman TV show creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91

Ben Affleck will play Batman opposite Henry Cavill's Superman in the upcoming "Man of Steel" sequel "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," slated to hit theaters in 2016. (Warner Bros.)

Lorenzo Semple Jr., creator of the classic Adam West-starring “Batman” television series, has died.

The prolific screenwriter served as scribe for scores of films and TV series, including Dino De Laurentiis’ 1976 “King Kong,” the Warren Beatty-starring thriller “The Parallax View,” Sydney Pollack’s “Three Days of the Condor,” the 1980 cult darling “Flash Gordon” and the James Bond movie “Never Say Never Again,” among other projects.

Semple died Friday at his home in Brentwood of natural causes. Born March 27, 1923, Semple celebrated his 91st birthday Thursday. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Joyce; daughters Maria and Johanna; son Lorenzo; and six grandchildren.

Burt Ward as Robin and Adam West as Batman in the "Batman" TV series. (20th Century Fox)

Burt Ward as Robin and Adam West as Batman in the “Batman” TV series. (20th Century Fox)

In a 2010 interview with Hero Complex contributor Susan King, Semple recalled being approached by producer William Dozier to develop an ABC television series based on the “Batman” comic book.

“I got a cable from Bill to meet him in Madrid,” Semple said. “I flew to Madrid to meet him at the Ritz, and he pulled out of his pocket this copy of this comic book ‘Batman.’ I said, ‘It sounds terrific… Let’s do it.’”

He wrote the show’s first four episodes and served as the series’ executive story editor for the rest of its run, which starred West as the Caped Crusader and Burt Ward as Robin. Credited for the colorful comic-book-inspired “Bam!” and “Pow!” graphics in the show’s fight scenes, Semple said he knew from the start that he wanted “Batman” to be campy fun.

“When he showed me the book I said, ‘Bill, I know how to do it. Go back to L.A.,’” he recalled. “We had no discussion and had no discussion with the network at all. I wrote the script and they loved it. We had to make one trip to New York to explain it to ABC. They liked it, but they were startled by it because it wasn’t like anything else. They shot it without a pilot and scheduled it without a pilot. It started off as a rocket and naturally it ran out of steam because it was like a one-trick pony.”

More recently, Semple teamed up with former producer Marcia Nasatir (“The Big Chill,” “Vertical Limit”) for a movie review YouTube series titled “Reel Geezers.” The duo of then-octogenarian critics served up risque reviews on the movies and became a bit of a Hollywood sensation.

"Reel Geezers" critics Marcia Nasatir, left, and Lorenzo Semple at Semple's home in Los Angeles in 2007. (Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times)

“Reel Geezers” critics Marcia Nasatir, left, and Lorenzo Semple at Semple’s home in Los Angeles in 2007. (Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times)

Despite his passion for the industry, Semple tried to keep movies, and his work, in perspective.

“No one’s vote has ever been changed by a movie,” he said. “That’s why all the Iraq war movies failed. People who were against the war already knew it and people who supported the war didn’t want to see them. Movies are immediate. No screenwriter has ever been discovered after their death the way painters or novelists have been.

“If you don’t like a movie right away, it’s no good.”

Click through the image gallery at the top of the post for a look at the actors who have brought Batman to the screen.

[For the record, March 28, 6 p.m.: A previous version of this post misstated the year in which Semple was born.]

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+

RECENT AND RELATED

Christian Bale plays Bruce Wayne in "The Dark Knight Rises." (Ron Phillips / DC Comics / Warner Bros.)Batman: Who should have been cast instead of Ben Affleck?

Ben Affleck will play Batman in ‘Man of Steel’ sequel, due July 17, 2015

Ben Affleck’s Batman casting sparks backlash

Batman: The roles that led Ben Affleck to Batman

‘Superman/Batman’: Who should play the Dark Knight?

Superman and Batman will unite on film

Comic-Con 2013 top 10 moments

‘Man of Steel’: 50 images from Snyder’s film

Henry Cavill knows how Clark Kent feels

Comments


4 Responses to ‘Batman’ TV show creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91

  1. S Shin says:

    "Born March 27, 1973"
    Should be 1923.

  2. Allan says:

    We got cable because I loved Batman, and have had it ever since! Cable, that is.

  3. Andrew says:

    Another icon gone…He was a talented and prolific writer. I agree with his statement " If you don't like it right away..it's no good". Words to live by. RIP.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Close
E-mail It
Powered by ShareThis