Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bizarre Batman '66 Villains: Chandell

The Batman show of the 1960's wasn't known for being gritty or dramatic. On the contrary; this Batman was campy and comedic. A who's who of Hollywood guest starred or cameod on the show, which never took itself seriously.

Of course, if one was running a campy show in the '60s, there was one person who would be a must book guest star- Liberace. And the producers of this Batman were definitely up to the challenge. Rather than merely book a cameo for Liberace, they made him two full fledged villains- Chandell and his twin brother Harry. Harry was the bad one, blackmailing his brother Chandell into a life of crime. Chandell had a terrible secret, but not the one you're thinking. Chandell had hurt his hands and used a player piano during his "live" performances. If his blue haired fans found out, they'd be heartbroken. (His other obvious secret remained unspoken.)

Chandell used his irresistible charm to steal money from rich old ladies to pay his brother's blackmail demands. He did feel bad about it though because some of these ladies were quite charming and gorgeous. If he was really interested in them they could possibly lure him out of being a confirmed bachelor. Possibly.

Like all villains in a Batman episode, both brothers end up in jail. While Chandell dazzles 'em with his fancy piano playing, Harry plots their escape.

Adam West recalls Liberace as being a fun guest to have around who would entertain cast and crew alike with his piano playing. The producers were no doubt delighted by the fact that Chandell's wardrobe came from Liberace's own closets, saving thousands in costuming costs for the production. Liberace didn't trust outside costume designers or pianos so he provided his own wardrobe and equipment for the production. After all, how could they possibly design anything campier or more ridiculous than what Liberace actually wore?

The Liberace episodes ranked among the highest rated of the series. The blue haired grannies who delusionally swooned over him tuned in alongside their grandchildren, creating huge ratings for the caped crusader and ABC.