Spotlight On…Milton Berle (Spotlight On…Volume Two)

“Uncle Miltie” or “Mr. Television”, Milton Berle was so much more than just Louie the Lilac in Season 3. Milton Berle had many different connections to the Batman TV Series.

5th March 1966
1 Hollywood Palace
Hollywood Palace: Season 3 Episode 23
Hollywood Palace was a televised variety show that lasted from 1964-1970. The show would have guest hosts and guest performers each week. On the 5th March 1966, the guest host was Milton Berle and one of the guest performers was Adam West, appearing in costume as Batman for the most part.

Milton tells us that Batman is coming and we can see him coming on the Bat-Scope. Batman arrives via Batmobile and rushes to the stage. Batman and Milton interact, Milton playing for the camera and Adam West dead-pan as ever as Batman, unaware that anything he does or says is ridiculous. Milton does cause Adam to break at one point. Martha Raye comes along enamoured with “the Batman” and unable to contain herself and refers to him as Adam West. They ask Batman/Adam West to change his costume to perform his new recording. Milton starts the set up for a joke but Adam has changed so quickly he’s able to interrupt Milton before he can complete the joke. Adam then goes on to perform a song. Then Milton and Adam discuss whether Milton’s son is allowed to watch Milton or Batman on TV! A Skit is then set up where “all the comic strip characters” interact.

In this skit we see Milton Berle as Clark Kent and with exaggerated clothing and glasses to hide his muscles. The skit is extremely over the top and slapstick. Milton as Superman finds out repeatedly that the people he was supposed to save had already been saved by Batman so changes back and forth between Clark Kent and Superman. These interactions giving him interactions with comedy performers as Wonder Woman and Buck Rogers and other heroic characters. Eventually a villain posed as a hero aims to poison him with Kryptonite sauce.

Adam West’s Batman comes to save Clark Kent from being tortured at the hands of The Fiddler. Batman admits he misheard and thought Clark said The Riddler, it is then revealed that Batman can be in so many places at once because he’s not the only one, there’s a whole team of Batmen!

I did not include this in my post Superman – The Batman 66 Connection, because this is a clear parody, and not meant as an “actual” Superman story. (Similarly I did not include Adam West’s Memphis Wrestling appearance confronting “Super-King” for much the same reason!)

Pre-September 1966
2 ABC 7 Nights
ABC Promotional Film: 7 Nights to Remember
In preparation for TV channel ABC’s fall (autumn) line up, there was a promotional film entitled “7 Nights to Remember”. All the promotional footage was framed around Batman and Robin investigating who “stole” the Fall Lineup!

Batman and Robin wind up at Commissioner Gordon’s office and they watch the fall line up unfold.

In this promotional film we see Milton Berle as himself. Batman says that a poor wretch must have stolen the Fall line up. We hear Milton from under the desk. Batman and Robin investigate, at first Robin thinks it may be a “poor wretch” but then realises it’s Milton Berle. Batman informs Milton that he is wanted for Murder. “That’s right…ABC wants you to murder the people every Friday Night, starting this September at the stroke of 9!” says Batman, in response Milton says “Holy Affiliates” and gives a wink to camera. Milton then works out how good of a deal he’ll be on with this new gig.

Clips of this ABC Promotional film involving Batman, Robin and Milton Berle appear on the DVD/VHS, Holy Batmania!.

16th September 1966
3 Milton Berle Show
Milton Berle Show (1966-1967): Episode 2
There were a few shows called The Milton Berle Show. On the 2nd episode of the version that ran from 1966-1967, there’s a skit involving Adam West as Batman, Van Williams as The Green Hornet and Bruce Lee as Kato. In this skit Milton envisions what it would be like to be an actor hired for shooting both shows back to back at the same time, and portrays villains for each show. The Riar (The Liar misspelt and mis-pronounced) for Batman, and Fink Pussycat for Green Hornet and Kato. Milton quickly becomes run ragged as he is called back and forth between sets until finally he is exhausted and all appear on screen at the same time. It’s revealed that all of this was rehearsal and after a lunch break it’s all going to be done for real! Given the purposeful mispronunciation of The Liar, and the insensitive caricature of an Asian stereotype portrayed here, it is easy to see why this footage isn’t widely available on home media. There is however a poorly edited 4 minute clip with awful sound quality available on the DVD “Bruce Lee: Century Hero” if anyone is interested. Otherwise, I suggest watching the full clip on YouTube.

6th October 1966
4 as Prison Guard
Batman: Season 2 Episode 10: Ma Parker
In this episode Ma Parker and her family have taken over the prison! Batman and Robin climb the wall of the prison. Milton appears (uncredited) as an inmate dressed as a prison guard ready to shoot Batman and Robin. Batman reasons with him that he shouldn’t jeopardise his entire future just 48 years before his parole! The inmate realises this and throws his gun away and lets the caped crusaders go on with their business.

19th October 1967
5 Uncredited Debut
Batman: Season 3 Episode 6: The Unkindest Tut of All (100th Episode)
As Season 3 (for the most part) did away with 2 parters, it would often be the case that the next villain would appear, uncredited, during the end of the episode antedating them. A policeman on patrol thinks its “deadly dull” in Gotham City before noticing Louie the Lilac in his car. Giving Louie the Lilac the distinction of being one of two major villains to appear on the 100th episode of the show!

26th October 1967
6 Purple Reign
Season 3 Episode 7: Louie the Lilac
Louie the Lilac plans to manipulate the flower children of Gotham City. To do this he brainwashes and kidnaps their leader Princess Primrose (formerly known as Thelma Jones when she and Barbara Gordon were classmates) in the middle of their flower in. Louie’s plans, traps, theme and décor all revolve around flowers mostly Lilacs. Batman and Robin are fed to man-eating lilacs. Princess Primrose is brainwashed by a Lilac in Louie’s lapel. Even near the end of the episode Batgirl sprays Louie with a Mildew spray and Louie and his associate Lila believe him to be mildewing and decaying!

4th January 1968
7 Barbara Look Out!
Season 3 Episode 17: The Joke’s On Catwoman
Louie would again appear seeded in the end of the episode of different villains. This time it is Barbara Gordon who recognises him in the library, remembering his impact on her friend in his previous scheme.

11th January 1968
8 Lethal
Season 3 Episode 18: Louie’s Lethal Lilac Time
There’s no mention of Barbara and Louie’s meeting in the previous episode here. In the second of Louie’s appearances he looks to corner the perfume market. He takes some ambergris that Dick has found on the beach, and kidnaps Bruce and Dick too. Louie plans to use Bruce’s expertise to use illegal methods involving the skins and coats of animals to create perfumes. Unfortunately for him he runs into Batgirl, and after locking Bruce and Dick away to work on the perfumes, gives them enough time to use their instant unfolding Bat-Costumes which they have placed in glasses of warm water gladly provided to them by Louie as Bruce told him warm water was very important in the task he was asked to do.

Side Notes:
Louie the Lilac Re-Appearances
9 Reappearances
Interestingly Louie the Lilac appeared in 2 issues of the Batman 66 comics and 2 animated appearances since the end of the series. As with some other characters from the 1966 Batman series, the rights to Milton Berle’s likeness has not been ascertained for these appearances. Given that those involved in these projects could not get the rights but still decided to go ahead and use the character anyway to my mind shows the impact of the character.

2nd January 2009
Season 1 Episode 4: Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Day of the Dark Night
At the beginning of the episode there is a jailbreak of many villains included some who originated in the 66 TV show. One of them here is Louie the Lilac. Though like the others, he doesn’t have any lines.

27th August 2014
Batman 66 Issue 14
In this issue Batman has developed the Bat-Robot to take on his duties. One of the many villains appearing in this story is Louie the Lilac. Louie robs a bank and attempts to knock out the Bat-Robot with a gas from the flower in his lapel, and quickly finds out that it has no effect on the robot. The Bat-Robot lifts up the car with Louie and his goons inside ready for apprehension by the police.

26th August 2015
Batman 66 Issue 26
It seems early on that Poison Ivy (another plant and flower based villain) has killed Louie the Lilac. Poison Ivy reveals that she’s been readying her debut for 2 years and that she was testing her creations through Louie. At the end of the story Poison Ivy reveals that she has not killed him and that he is in a state of deep catatonia.

10th October 2016
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders
Louie appears as one of the many villains in the scene where villains are brought in to fight a load of evil Batmen. Interestingly this takes place on a live episode of “Gotham Palace” a take-off on Hollywood Palace where Milton and Batman first interacted over 50 years prior!

One thought on “Spotlight On…Milton Berle (Spotlight On…Volume Two)

  1. Pingback: Batman 66: The Narrators – Bat Spray Blog

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