As I noted earlier in the week on various social media, Batgirl, whose face graces my “Heroes, Villains, and Fools” home page, has died. Ms Craig was a heroine to the kids of prior generations who were unused to superheroes at every turn. Superheroes could mainly be found in comic books. Among other villains, Craig fought bullies.
Craig was trained as a dancer, which helped her perform her own stunts as Batgirl in the iconic 1960s TV series “Batman.” Craig died at her home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., as a result of complications from breast cancer that had spread to her liver.
Craig’s last opponent required a long and valiant fight.
In a statement posted to her website, family members said:
“She had been in chemo almost continuously for the past two plus years since being diagnosed and that had weakened her immune system as well as her body. This didn’t dampen her sense of humor or her spirit, she intended to fight and win this battle. In the end, her mind still wanted to fight but her body had given up.”
Craig was a trained dancer who had studied at the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and toured for three years. Those dancing skills came in handy when the character of Batgirl debuted on ABC’s popular superhero crime-fighting series in 1967. Craig was able to perform her own stunts alongside Adam West, who played Batman.
As with many characters on the show, she had to play two roles. By day, she was librarian Barbara Gordon, daughter of Gotham City police Commissioner James Gordon. But in times of need, she transformed into the caped crusader fighting crime alongside Batman and Robin.”
Star Trek fans will remember Craig’s work, too. She played Marta, the green-skinned Orion slave girl who wanted to kill Captain Kirk in Season 3.
Other roles included the 1963 movie It Happened at the World’s Fair and 1964’s Kissin’ Cousins, both staring Elvis Presley. She also made guest appearances on popular TV shows throughout the 1970s, including Starsky & Hutch, The Six Million Dollar Man and Kojak.
More recently, she did voice work for the Nickelodeon animated series Olivia about an imaginative and creative pig.
Outside of acting, Craig had a real-estate career and also was involved with philanthropy. She was an advocate for workers unions, free mammograms and equal pay for women.
The family’s statement said Craig had two wishes:
“Wish Number One, is that her family, friends and fans would know how much she loved them and always treasured her time with them. Wish Number Two, was that no one waste a moment of their time in mourning for her loss in sadness but instead celebrate the awesome life she had been fortunate enough to live. She felt that she lived a wonderful life and was blessed in many ways.”
Craig is survived by her husband, Kenneth Aldrich, as well as by her sister, Meridel Carson, and nephews Christopher and Todd Carson.
The Early life and career of a hero.
Yvonne Joyce Craig (May 16, 1937 – August 17, 2015) was an American ballet dancer and actress best known for her role as Batgirl from the 1960s television series Batman, and as the Orion slave girl Marta in the Star Trek episode “Whom Gods Destroy
Yvonne Craig was born in Taylorville, Illinois, and grew up in Columbus, Ohio, for the first 14 years of her life. She originally trained to be a ballet dancer and was a member of the corps de ballet of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the 1950s. Gradually, she moved into acting, and in 1959 appeared in three films: The Young Land, The Gene Krupa Story, and Gidget. She also had a guest role as Beverly Mills in the 1959 episode “Little Miss Wow” of the television series Mr. Lucky. In 1960, she appeared withBing Crosby in High Time.
In the following year, she appeared with Cesar Romero in Seven Women from Hell. Romero would later play the Joker in Batman. Another connection to Batman occurred when Craig appeared in “The Case of the Lazy Lover”, a 1958 episode of the television series Perry Mason, which also featured Neil Hamilton as her stepfather. Hamilton would later play her father, Commissioner Gordon, in Batman.
Yvonne starred in roles with Elvis Presley in two films: It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963) and Kissin’ Cousins (1964). She also starred in the cult sci-fi film Mars Needs Women (1966), and appeared in In Like Flint (1967) as a Russian ballet dancer opposite James Coburn.
In the 1960s, with film roles beginning to taper off, she moved into television, appearing in several shows, including The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Death Valley Days, Hennesey, and My Three Sons. Craig appeared five times on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, portraying five separate girlfriends for the titular character between 1959 and 1962. One of her more memorable roles came in 1969 when Craig appeared on Star Trek as Marta, a green-skinned Orion slave girl in the third-season episode “Whom Gods Destroy“.
In a 1965 episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (“The Brain-Killer Affair”), she helps solve the mystery of a brain-endangering poison. In 1966, she appeared as an U.N.C.L.E. employee in a theatrical film, One Spy Too Many (expanded from a 1965 Season Two episode, “The Alexander the Greater Affair”). In a 1966 episode of The Wild Wild West (“The Night of the Grand Emir”), she played an assassin who performs an exotic Arabian dance. She also played a United States Navy Nurse with exotic Arabian dance skills in an episode of McHale’s Navy (“Pumpkin Takes Over”, 1965). She appeared in an episode of The Big Valley with Lee Majors andBarbara Stanwyck. In a 1968 episode of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (“Haunted Honeymoon”), she played a bride-to-be stranded overnight at Gull Cottage. In a 1970 episode of Land of the Giants (“Wild Journey”), she played one-half of a humanoid, time-observing duo (alongside Bruce Dern) who chase two of the Earth castaways (series stars Gary Conway and Don Marshall) into the past, ultimately forcing them to relive the flight that sent them to the giants’ planet.
Craig’s highest profile would come with the cult 1960s television series Batman as Batgirl (and her alter ego, librarian Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter). She appeared in the final season (1967–1968). Batgirl’s true identity was unknown to Batman and Robin, and their true identities were unknown to her; only Alfred, the butler for Bruce Wayne/Batman, was aware of Batgirl’s identity. Craig felt some connection to the character and complained to DC Comics after Barbara Gordon was shot and paralyzed by the Joker in the 1988 graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke.
After Batman, Craig continued to act sporadically in movies and television. Notably, she appeared in guest roles in Love, American Style (the first episode), Kentucky Jones,The Big Valley, It Takes a Thief, The Mod Squad, Kojak and Emergency!. From 1969 to 1972, she appeared in four episodes of the comedy series Love, American Style. In 1973 she appeared in a season 1 episode of Kojak called ‘Dark Sunday’ and in 1977 made a guest appearance in The Six Million Dollar Man. She also made appearances as herself on some celebrity editions of Family Feud (1976-1985 version).
She eventually moved into private business. For a time, she was a co-producer of industrial shows, after which she worked successfully in the real estate business. She maintained her own internet Web site. Craig appeared in the documentary film Ballets Russes. From 2009-11, she provided the voice of Grandma on the animated children’s show Olivia.
- Eighteen and Anxious (1957)
- The Young Land (1959)
- Gidget (1959)
- The Gene Krupa Story (1959)
- High Time (1960)
- By Love Possessed (1961)
- Seven Women from Hell (1961)
- It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963)
- Kissin’ Cousins (1964)
- Ski Party (1965)
- Mars Needs Women (1966)
- One Spy Too Many (1966)
- One of Our Spies Is Missing (1966)
- In Like Flint (1967)
- How to Frame a Figg (1971)
- Diggin’ Up Business (1990)