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'Holy camp-fest, Batman! It's special guest villainess Carole Lombard as...'



(It's March 1966. More than two dozen years after her plane stayed in the air, Carole Lombard -- now 57 and transitioning into work as a character actress when she's not producing films -- gets a call from an old friend she worked with in "Love Before Breakfast.")

Carole Lombard: Hello.
Cesar Romero: Hi there, Cesar Romero here. Trust you're doing well.
Carole: I am.
Cesar: Loved those comedies you've done with Myrna Loy. How many have you two done now?



Carole: Seven in all -- one more than she made with Bill as Nick. She does the ZaSu Pitts, I do the Thelma Todd, only we inflate the stories to feature-length scale. Oh, and I see what you've been up to on TV -- a far cry from "Ocean's Eleven" or "The Thin Man." All that makeup, and you keep your mustache on!



Cesar: I'm over here at Fox planning my next Joker appearance, and [executive producer] Bill Dozier wanted me to talk to you about appearing on the show as a guest villain. I'm sure you know the series is what they call, er, "camp."
Carole: Neither you nor Susan Sontag have to tell me about camp. Remember "White Woman" with Charles Laughton?



Cesar: That was over the top, all right.
Carole: But who would I play? All I know about comic books is that Superman's alter ego was named for two actors I worked with, one on "White Woman" [Kent Taylor] and one I married [Clark Gable]. I think "Batman" featured a woman who was a cat burglar...
Cesar: They'd create a new villain expressly for you.
Carole: (laughs) Me as a villain. Haven't done that since "The Arizona Kid" back in '30.
Cesar: Oh, Catwoman's already been cast -- she'll be on later this month -- and the lady who plays her just dropped in the room. She always asks me about you. Say hello to Julie.
(Romero hands the phone to Julie Newmar.)
Julie: Carole! Always great to talk to you!



Carole: You, that Amazonian beauty! Met you at a party a few years back and felt downright puny.
Julie: You are my comic inspiration, just as Rita Hayworth is for dance.
Carole: Thank you! Enjoyed your playing a robot on that "My Living Doll" with Bob Cummings. (Imitates Julie's robotic character voice.) "That does not compute."
Julie: It became a catchphrase of sorts.



Carole: So you think I'd like playing a comic baddie?
Julie: Yep, though I've already claimed the romantic angle with Adam West. Maybe they can get you involved with Neil Hamilton, who plays Commissioner Gordon.



Carole: Never worked with Neil -- hey, he's a bit older than I am -- though I remember all those movies he made with [D.W.] Griffith in the '20s. Anyhow, tell Bill I'd definitely be interested, and say hi to Ann [Rutherford, Dozier's wife] for me. You and Cesar take care.
_________________________________________

This "imaginary story" (listen, DC Comics did that all the time!) is our tribute to a new exhibit which opened at the Hollywood Museum this weekend. "Batman '66" honors the TV series, with all sorts of artifacts. (Oh, and much of the Jean Harlow exhibit from last year remains on hand, in case you missed it earlier.)



For more on the exhibit, which will run for a few months, visit http://thehollywoodmuseum.com/exhibit/holy-hollywood-history/.

And we'll toss this question out for you: If Carole Lombard had been around in 1966 (she would've been 57 when the series debuted that January), what sort of guest villainess might she have played? For inspiration, here's a list of the Gotham City TV baddies: http://mentalfloss.com/article/60213/visual-guide-all-37-villains-batman-tv-series.
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