TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

General goings on in the 1966 Batman World

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bat-rss
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TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

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We all have our favorite characters and actors from "Batman", but how many of us are fanboys for Executive Producer William Dozier? Well, for one, there’s Oscar Lilley, proxy researcher at the American Heritage Center in Laramie, Wyoming. In the process of working with Dozier’s papers, Oscar has grown intrigued with Dozier’s backstory and impressed by how he did his job. In this episode, he tells us about Dozier's selflessness, his business sense, and how the trajectory of his 1965 series "The Loner" tracks with that of "Batman". Also, more circumstantial evidence that seem to disprove the Fourth Season Myth!

Plus, the Amosdoll Music version of the theme, and your response to our discussion of the Funny Feline Felonies!

http://tothebatpoles.libsyn.com/podcast ... ier-fanboy
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

Post by BATWINGED HORNET »

Another winner, guys.

Big thank you to Oscar Lilley for his laboring over the Dozier papers.

Facts go such a long way in shattering long-accepted myths, such as Burt Ward being the "big head"/headache of the series (if you believe anything Stanley Ralph Ross ever said on the matter), but the papers cite Adam West as being a rather serious problem for the production with his behavior/demands (e.g. back massages). Not a word about Ward. This is the kind of information that must force objective historians and fans to reassess the series' production and what were the true problems hobbling the series as it moved forward.

Interesting that Oscar does not believe Dozier ever tried to fight to keep Batman on the air by moving it to another network. What's interesting about that is Dozier wanted to save The Loner, and he put up a brief, unsuccessful fight to do the same for The Green Hornet, but not Batman. While we know Batman had enough episodes to be profitable in syndication (so he would have no reason to keep grinding on with another season), I do wonder if he had more of a creative interest in, or received greater creative satisfaction) from The Loner or The Green Hornet?

Oscar thinks the series could not have worked without Semple or Dozier, but I do think the casting of the two leads was an unintentional magic mix in the way West and Ward played off of each other. From the screen tests, there's just no way Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyel would have ever carried that off, at least if one looks at the kind of actor Waggoner would be in the years to follow (wooden plank, anyone?).

About Rod Serling: I think Oscar is a bit harsh on him. We have to remember that by the time of The Loner, Serling was already a legend in TV, and in demand to write movie screenplays (I'm guessing he was either already involved, or soon to be in writing his version of the Planet of the Apes screenplay), so this was a man who should have "had the floor" to speak his mind, or explore what he wanted for the series.

I cannot see him as a demanding diva type, but a serious artist who did not like his vision being tinkered with, or misunderstood, a problem he ended up having (with producer Jack Laird and Universal) during the production of the criminally underrated Night Gallery. For such a successful writer, he dealt with far too many frustrations working in Hollywood.

Harve Bennett's network nitpicking aside, he was one of TV's most prolific creator/producers. Beyond the Dozier experience, he also helped develop a long string of memorable hits, such as The Mod Squad, and produced The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, before going on (as you mention) to work on the Star Trek movies. Pretty much the textbook example of another TV legend.
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

Post by robinboyblunderer »

BATWINGED HORNET wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 4:49 am Another winner, guys.

Big thank you to Oscar Lilley for his laboring over the Dozier papers.

Facts go such a long way in shattering long-accepted myths, such as Burt Ward being the "big head"/headache of the series (if you believe anything Stanley Ralph Ross ever said on the matter.... Not a word about Ward. This is the kind of information that must force objective historians and fans to reassess the series' production and what were the true problems hobbling the series as it moved forward.

Interesting that Oscar does not believe Dozier ever tried to fight to keep Batman on the air by moving it to another network.

Oscar thinks the series could not have worked without Semple or Dozier, but I do think the casting of the two leads was an unintentional magic mix in the way West and Ward played off of each other.
Thanks for sharing all this and the script.

Yes, Ward has gotten a very bad rap, interesting for other perspectives on the issue to emerge.

I'm sure if Dozier had any idea how much of a pop-culture hit he'd have all these years later if a lot of things would've been done differently regarding the show. Hindsight and all that I guess.

And your point about the "magic mix" is accurate and what made so much of the 3rd Season a shambles; while I understand why Batgirl was added and no doubt Yvonne did her best, her presence (amongst other factors) disrupted the chemistry of the Dynamic Duo.

It's all moot anyway but these scripts and documents are interesting to read!
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

Post by gothosmansion »

This was a fascinating listen. Thanks for sharing. All too often, Dozier doesn't really get the credit he deserves for making the Batman show work.

I found it interesting, if a little disheartening, to find the Adam displayed such diva-ish behavior, but I guess anyone who gets into the acting business has to have a pretty big ego. I've read complaints from Adam about "the narrator" being the only cast member who got a raise in season two and we've probably all heard West complain about Dozier's comment "there have been thirteen Tarzans" when Adam West made the cover of Life. Good to see Dozier's side of the story so that we fans don't paint him as a villain.

Oh, and don't forget Dozier had another Diva to deal with...Bob Kane! Read Kane's letters to Dozier in the Batman newspaper strip book.
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

Post by Mr. Glee »

Another good show, and the documents were fascinating to read. On the question of whether Semple owned a piece of the show, I don't think he did; there's an interview with him in which he states "I had a remarkably bad deal" on BATMAN, and goes on to say he could be bitter - but isn't - about how little he earned from the series.

Edited to add - a link to the Semple interview:

https://interviews.televisionacademy.co ... view-clips
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

Post by epaddon »

Enjoyed listening to this. A few random thoughts here and there.

1-That amateur piano version of the theme reminded me of the trolley music from "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" and suddenly filled my mind with visions of Batman done like that show! ("It's a beautiful day in Gotham City....")

2-I have seen about the first ten episodes of "The Loner" which has had a DVD release so it is available. The thing that's funny is seeing the familiar "A Greenway Production" font on the end credits because it seems like something that belongs only in the stylized Batman end credits and not in a B/W western. The pilot episode "An Echo of Bugles" has a plot that would NEVER get by in today's world of uber-PC. Colton, the drifting ex-Union vet objects when a young punk harasses an old ex-Confederate soldier in a bar by desecrating the *Confederate* battle flag he still carries. Colton sees the Confederate soldier as someone who shared the same horrifying experience in war he did and that his battle flag is meant to honor his comrades, not the cause that he (Colton) fought against.

3-Two future Bat villains did appear on "The Loner." Anne Baxter in episode 6 "One Of The Wounded" and Burgess Meredith in episode 13 "Hunt The Man Down." I have to wonder if these guest shots made it easy for Dozier to make the call to get them on "Batman" right away.

4-I always thought if they really wanted to be clever in the climax of the False Face episode during the chase in the movie studio backlot the "cowboy" they encounter should have been a Lloyd Bridges cameo and he could have said to Batman he was just an "out of work cowboy". :) After listening to the podcast, I now doubt that idea would have flown!

5-Hearing that ABC was suggesting the show could air on even more nights in 15 minute segments really sounds bizarre but it's the kind of suggestion only ABC would have made in that era. The fall of 1965 was when they expanded "Peyton Place" to three nights a week (a move that ultimately backfired ratings wise) so clearly they might have been thinking "Batman" could serve the same kind of role for spreading out a hit property (which they had few of at the time) across a wider part of the week (though it would have made the stories more ridiculous).

6-I hope that if Oscar gets a chance to study the archives further, he might check out the material related to Dozier's big mega-flop "The Tammy Grimes Show" which I think is the key to why by the end of the 66-67 season, Dozier was really looking to get out of the whole business of producing with just one more season of "Batman" needed to guarantee a good syndication sale. In the fall of 66, Dozier was conceivably in position to become as big a TV producer as say, Quinn Martin with three shows on the air, and what followed was "Batman" in decline, "Green Hornet" a middling flop and "Tammy Grimes" a show with a lot of hype (there are even publicity pix of Tammy and Adam together with Adam in costume and Tammy wrapped inside his cape with him!) that became one of the first network shows ever to flop so bad it was yanked off after just several weeks. Those of us who started watching TV in the 70s are used to seeing shows get pulled that fast but in the 60s that was still unprecedented because the usual rule was that when you made the air, you got 13 episodes aired no matter when the decision was made to pull the plug because sponsors would still have paid for advertising and needed their contracts honored. With that failure, suddenly the potential to be a big time TV mover and shaker in the Quinn Martin tradition was gone and Dozier was no doubt ready to cash in and get out.

7-Knowing that Dozier was once a felon certainly makes that moment when Dozier's photo is used as a mug shot in "Fine Finny Fiends" even funnier! ("An obvious criminal type" as Alfred said).

8-Looking at the documents, I have to admit that Bennett asked a very good question in his memo on the pilot about why Riddler never thinks of taking Robin's mask off, and this of course was something that I thought stuck out like a sore thumb even *more* in "That Darn Catwoman" in S2 when Catwoman never once asks Robin to take his mask off. Dozier's response on this point frankly is weak where he says that Riddler couldn't care less who Robin is he would rather unmask Batman. But wouldn't unmasking Robin logically provide him with a pretty darn good idea who Batman is????? Dozier's response that "this is a dangerous can of peas to open" is pretty much a cop-out. The clever way around it would be Riddler not wanting to do it because it wouldn't be "playing fair" in the sense that he wants to find out Batman's identity *his* way and not by resorting to a quick and easy way of doing it. Villain ego is a very easy reason to get around that "can of peas" as it were.
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

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BATWINGED HORNET wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 4:49 am the papers cite Adam West as being a rather serious problem for the production with his behavior/demands (e.g. back massages).
interesting, especially considering that the series finale had Adam getting a eggplant jelly(?) massage--with Dozier and Horwitz making cameos. :lol:
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

Post by High C »

This is one of my favorite episodes. Oscar was a terrific guest and I learned a lot. Interestingly, although he again debunked the fourth season myth, he gave credence to something else I always thought was a myth.

It was fascinating to hear that Dozier's original plan included re-editing episodes into theatrical movies. That was being done by The Man From UNCLE and the formula invariably involved adding more skin, quite frankly, and sometimes more violence. For instance, one movie had footage of Yvonne as a secretary at headquarters wearing a bikini while trying to get a tan under a heat lamp. That wasn't in the aired show at all. In another one, Julie London was the estranged wife of a villain and Solo confronted her at her home. in the TV version, it's just the two of them and they're standing. In the movie version, she's in bed with a younger guy who is shirtless.

I agree with Oscar that Dozier was very good at what he did. But I think his loyalty sometimes was misplaced. Howie Horwitz was a competent producer but he didn't seem to understand Semple and Dozier's vision. And Charles Hoffman was even worse.

As for Semple, he was all-in at the start but it's obvious his ambition was to get into movie screenplays. It's frustrating to think how much better the show could have been if he had stayed. He wasn't perfect, but at least he had a clear vision.

As epaddon noted, Dozier's fortunes as a producer took a sharp decline in the fall of 1966. He also had a pilot for a planned Dick Tracy series shot that fall, but NBC eventually passed on it.

https://www.tvobscurities.com/articles/ ... ick_tracy/
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

Post by clavierankh »

I hope this is readable. It is a two page story about William Dozier and Joan Fontaine from the New York Daily News Sunday May 12, 1946. In it is the story of Dozier's conviction for mail fraud and other charges.
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

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Thanks for posting that. It's hard unfortunately to make out the text because of the reduced size of the image so I went back to the same database where that's available and looked at the original size version. Here's the text of the conviction story.

"In 1930 the firm Dozier was connected with contracted with the Citizens Cooperative Realty Co. to sell a tract owned by that company on the north side of Indianapolis. Dozier's outfit was called the Indiana Estates Company and associated with Dozier were Mel J. O'Keefe of San Francisco and James E. Huteson of Los Angeles.

"After moving the Indianapolis tract, the group passed on to Buffalo again and to other points. A year and a half later, Dozier was arrested in San Francisco. His associates were picked up later. George R. Lafferty, Federal prosecutor in Indianapolis obtained their indictments on charges of fraudulent advertising in newspapers and using the mails to transmit contracts which the government asserted were fraudulent.

"The government declared the Indiana Estates Co. had sold lots at excess value and had promised resale at a profit. Large commissions were included in the sales contracts, the law charged. The prices of the land were represented as extremely low, whereas the government contended, the prices were just about the real values of the tract......

"The original complaint was made by the Better Business Bureau and the Post Office Department was brought into the case by this agency. Resentment of local businessmen against aggressive outsiders is often the basis for such actions.

"Brought to Indianapolis for trial, Dozier, Huteson and O'Keefe admitted having used similar methods in other cities. The Better Business Bureau in Buffalo caused "detrimental publicity" which ended operations there. The Better Business Bureau in St. Paul also halter the caper in that city, whereupon Dozier entered law school.

"He told the court he had never sold any lots but confined himself to the inspirational addresses
[this is a reference to how Dozier would give inspirational speeches for the firm as part of the pitch they made to get customers to buy. Dozier is likened to William Jennings Bryan giving the "Cross of Gold" speech in this article! Small wonder he saw himself as the ideal narrator for the show.] He got $75 a week he said and had earned $3450 as his share of the Indianapolis deal which the government said had brought in $100,000 on down payments on "beautiful" empty lots."

Dozier and his co-defendants were convicted. Huteson got seven years, Dozier and O'Keefe received four year sentences in the Federal penitentiary at Chilicothe, OH and also received $2000 fines. "They all wept as the sentences were pronounced."

It goes on to say that Dozier's friends never held the conviction against him and felt he had been railroaded and taken advantage of by his older co-defendants.
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

Post by epaddon »

And here's an item on the original trial from the Indianapolis Star, October 8, 1931 which stresses how "many widows were victimized"!
The_Indianapolis_Star_Thu__Oct_8__1931_.jpg
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

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Wow! As a matter of fact, after our talk Oscar sent us more info about Dozier's crime that I spaced off mentioning in the podcast in my narration, jetlagged as I was. Says Oscar:

" So here is the scoop with a lot of conjecture on my part. Dozier along with a handful of co-defendants was convicted of mail fraud in 1932 where he received a sentence of four years and a fine of 2,000 dollars (500 for each count). He is paroled after a few years and is free and clear at the end of 1936. This is when he begins his career in Hollywood. Flash forward 10 years. Dozier is a studio executive at RKO and greenlights a movie called "Crossfire" starring Robert Mitchum. The film exposes anti-Semitism in the US and government institutions and draws the ire of HUAC. Despite HUAC's condemnation of the movie and the director and producer of the movie (both held in contempt by the committee and become members of the famous Hollywood 10), the movie is a smashing critical and box-office success, and well under budget. A year later, Dozier is pardoned by the President. I believe that the controversial film, and Dozier's support of it, provided him the spotlight to receive positive attention from the Truman Administration. Truman did give out what was at that time a record number of pardons, but the vast majority of those were blanket pardons specific to conscientious objectors and honorable vets who committed a felony prior to their service, so Dozier's was a special case. Maybe coincidence of timing but I believe it is impossible they are by some degree connected."
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

Post by bat-rss »

I'm going to mention this in a future podcast episode, but since it came up, thought I'd go ahead and share.
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

Post by bat-rss »

And it looks like Oscar meant "possible" rather than "impossible" in the last sentence!
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Re: TO THE BATPOLES podcast #108: The William Dozier Fanboy

Post by High C »

bat-rss wrote: Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:28 pm I'm going to mention this in a future podcast episode, but since it came up, thought I'd go ahead and share.
Thanks, Tim and Oscar! Although it is my understanding that LBJ rescinded the pardon after discovering that Dozier had written the words to the Batgirl theme...
'I thought Siren was perfect for Joan.'--Stanley Ralph Ross, writer of 'The Wail of the Siren'

My hobbies include gazing at the Siren and doing her bidding, evil or otherwise.

'She had a devastating, hypnotic effect on all the men.'--A schoolmate describing Joan Collins at age 17
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