×

Creator of TV’s ‘Batman’ Lorenzo Semple Jr. Dies at 91

Lorenzo Semple Jr., creator of the ’60s “Batman” TV series and scribe on thrillers “The Parallax View” and “Three Days of Condor,” died on Friday in his home in Los Angeles, according to reports. He had turned 91 on Thursday.

The screenwriter also had an extensive film writing career after leaving TV, including 1973’s Steve McQueen-Dustin Hoffman pic “Papillon,” 1975’s “The Drowning Pool” and Jessica Lange-starrer “King Kong.” (1976) Recently, Semple worked on a YouTube series called “Reel Geezers,” in which he and former studio exec Marcia Nasatir reviewed films.

Semple created “Batman,” starring Adam West as the Dark Knight and Burt Ward as Robin, in 1966, and it quickly became a hit. He also wrote the July 1966 “Batman” movie. Though he only wrote the first four episodes of the skein, he served as script or story consultant on the rest of the series.

“I think ‘Batman’ was the best thing I ever wrote, including those big movies,” he told the Archive of American Television in 2011. “As a whole work, it came out the way that I wanted it to and I was excited by it. I once went down to a fancy wine tasting benefit in Princeton. When people found out I wrote ‘Batman’ they mobbed me! I was astounded, but that was the way it was.”

In a 2008 guest piece for Variety, Semple remembered producer William Dozier’s pitch to the network, and how it immediately took off.

“Bill eloquently pitched the script and its high-camp POW!! BLAM!! WHAMMO!! style, those onscreen graphics already written in,” he wrote. “The network was a bit flabbergasted, so different was this from their usual pilot, but they got it.”

“For a time, Hollywood’s brightest stars vied for a chance to appear in the 30-second cameos Bill so shrewdly inserted,” he went on. “Despite efforts to juice it up with a Batgirl and a Batcycle and other ornaments, the series was a one-trick pony at heart, and barely staggered through a second season.”

Though “Batman” was known for a lovable campiness, his work took on a more serious tone as he moved to film. He wrote the script for cult film “Pretty Poison” (1968), which would win the New York Film Critics Circle Award. He would go on to co-write political thriller “The Parallax View” (1974) starring Warren Beatty.

He also penned a script for Sydney Pollack’s “Three Days of Condor” starring Robert Redford, though was eventually let go as David Rayfiel stepped in.

Semple was a member of the WGA, and taught a class at New York University’s TISCH School for the Arts in the ’80s.

Semple’s survivors include his daughter Maria, writer-producer who worked on “Mad About You,” “Suddenly Susan” and “Arrested Development,” as well as his wife Joyce, two children and six grandchildren.

More Film

  • Thierry Frémaux, José Luis Rebordinos Honored

    Thierry Frémaux, José Luis Rebordinos Named Honorary Argentine Academy Members

    BUENOS AIRES — In a ceremony just before Friday’s prize announcements at Ventana Sur, Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux and José Luis Rebordinos, director of the San Sebastian Festival, were named honorary members of Argentina’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in a new move for the Academy, out through by its new president, Bernardo [...]

  • Nona

    Film Review: 'Nona'

    Twenty years and 12 features down the line, it’s still hard to peg the directorial sensibility of Michael Polish, with or without the presence of brother Mark as frequent co-writer and actor. His output has been all over the place, from early Lynchian quirkfests to the very middle-of-the-road inspirational dramedy “The Astronaut Farmer,” not to [...]

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Wins for Best Film, Director at European Film Awards

    “Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white romance set in the 1950s, scooped the prizes for best film, director and screenplay at the 31st edition of the European Film Awards on Saturday. “Cold War” star Joanna Kulig also won the award for best actress. Marcello Fonte, the star of Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” won for best actor. Armando Iannucci’s [...]

  • The Favourite Bohemian Rapsody Star is

    The Best Movie Scenes of 2018

    When we think back on a movie that transported us, we often focus on a great scene — or maybe the greatest scene — in it. It’s natural. Those scenes are more than just defining. They can be the moment that lifts a movie into the stratosphere, that takes it to the higher reaches of [...]

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    Box Office: 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Soars Toward $35-40 Million Debut

    “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is swinging into theaters on a high note. Sony-Marvel’s latest output is launching to $42 million from 3,813 North American locations in its debut, though other more conservative estimates place that number at $35.5 million. The animated superhero story picked up $12.6 million on Friday, easily leading the pack for the weekend. [...]

  • Ventana Sur : Cinema226 Closes Four

    Cinema226 Announces Four Intl. Co-Productions, Hints at More (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexico’s Cinema226, run by Marco Antonio Salgado and Sam Guillén, is driving into a raft of Mexico, Argentina and Spain co-productions, playing off the current vibrancy of Mexican film production funding and distribution outlets. Among the projects are titles which have been standouts at Ventana Sur’s Blood Window, the next film by Mexico-based Argentine filmmaker [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content