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Before Batman Was Broody, Austin Hosted the Hero's First Film Premiere

Neal Douglass, via Austin History Center, ND-66-290-01
A shot of the premiere of "Batman: The Movie" in 1966.

On Thursday, the next Batman movie will hit screens in Austin. While it’s technically a Superman movie, the Dark Knight’s top billing in “Batman v. Superman” and some of the early reviews intimate otherwise. But, nearly 50 years ago, the Caped Crusader’s first film outing flew into Austin for its premiere.

Credit Wikipedia
The Glastron-fabricated Batboat used in the 1966 film.

The film’s July 30, 1966 premiere at the Paramount Theater wasn’t exactly scheduled off-the-bat when production began for the big-screen adaptation of ABC’s comic book-based show. The premiere was reportedly a condition of Glastron, the creators of the film’s Batboat. The Austin-based company didn’t demand payment from producer William Dozier for fabricating the boat. They merely wanted Austin to host the film’s premiere, which coincided with Austin’s Aqua Fest.

The event was also marked with a dinner hosted by Austin Mayor Lester Palmer, which benefited the festival, and the Texas Secretary of State John L. Hill even proclaimed stars Adam West and Burt Ward honorary Texans.

However, the most entertaining part of the whole ordeal, aside from the campy, aptly-titled film “Batman: The Movie,” is the surviving footage from the press junket prior to its premiere  – preserved by the Texas Archive of the Moving Image.

Jean Boone of Austin’s CBS affiliate interviewed the stars of the movie, including her longtime friend and the original Joker, Cesar Romero, Catwoman actress Lee Meriwether, producer William Dozier and, of course, Adam West, who says little before ending the interview with a sheepish salutation of “peace.”

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