Director of the original Batman: The Movie, Leslie H. Martinson, has passed away. He was 101 years young, and died of natural causes. His wife, Connie Martinson was by his side at his home in Los Angeles and he is set to be buried at the Temple Israel Center on September 9th.
Martinson first took on two different episodes of the Adam West Batman TV series back in 1966, The Penguin Goes Straight and Not Yet, He Ain’t before being offered the opportunity to direct the first Batman movie later that year. Thanks to the ridiculousness of the Adam West Batman series, both the show and the movie are seen as cult classics, even if they do deliver a different take on our more modem and gritty Dark Knight. Batman villains Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman all propelled to cult fame as well thanks to their portrayal in the show.
Before Batman, Martinson had an impressive list of shows under his belt: Chevron Theatre, The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse, The Roy Rogers Show, The Mickey Rooney Show, The Millionaire, and Sugarfoot all in the 1950’s, and Cheyenne, Maverick, Lawman, and No Time For Sergeants throughout the 1960’s. His directorial debut was in 1953 for a TV series titled City Detective.
Martinson took a small break from superheroes, focusing on projects such as The Brady Bunch, Mission Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man. Afterwards he did eventually return to superheroes, directing five episodes of the Wonder Woman series starring Lynda Carter. He continued directing well into the 1980’s.
Calling Martinson a significant figure in DC’s history is definitely an understatement. The man helped pave the way for the superhero movies we all love today. RIP Leslie H. Martinson, you will be missed.