You probably forgot that Dick Gautier once filled in briefly as Batman

When Adam West left the Bat Cave behind, the actor who played everything from Conrad Birdie to Fonzie's worst nightmare stepped in.

Read to Me

In 1971, Adam West was done being Batman.

"I knew it was going to be hard to live down such a strong identification," West told a TV columnist syndicated in The Newspaper Enterprise Association that year. "But it's been even harder than I anticipated. And today the series is being widely rerun, so I'm still identified with Batman."

This was three years past the series end, but the action series maintained a wide fan base, and that year, an idea was floated to use the popular characters of Batgirl, Batman, and Robin to run a public service announcement raising awareness for a movement to secure equal pay for women.

In the PSA, Batman and Robin are tied up, and Batgirl appears.

"Untie us before it's too late," Batman commands Batgirl.

"It's already too late," Batgirl retorts, refusing to set them free until Batman agrees to give her a raise. "I've worked for you a long time, and I'm paid less than Robin!"

The PSA was promoting awareness of the federal equal pay law, and it ends with a cliffhanger to tune in tomorrow to find out if Batman does his duty and gives Batgirl what she’s owed.

West refused to do this PSA, not because of politics, but because he just didn't want to be Batman anymore.

For that reason, they needed a new Batman, just for this PSA, and a different familiar face from the 1960s stepped in.

Dick Gautier is an actor perhaps best recognized as the original Conrad Birdie on Broadway, but for TV fans, he'll likely always be associated with his popular robot character "Hymie" on Get Smart. The character was so good, it was originally written to appear in only three episodes, but writers soon pulled in Gautier for three more.

Unlike West, Gautier was known not for heroic good looks or dashing action scenes when he rose to fame, but rather, he rose up as a stand-up comedian in nightclubs.

"I only cared about being funny at first," Gautier told The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette in 1981. "I thought I was homely. I still can't accept it gracefully when people say I am good-looking."

In his TV career, Gautier starred in a couple of short-lived series, became a well-liked game show host, and played comedic roles on hit sitcoms like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bewitched, The Flying Nun, and Happy Days — where he memorably played Fonzie's "worst nightmare," a mad scientist intent on draining Fonzie of what makes him cool. (Ayyy!)

He also made appearances through the 1980s on drama and action shows like Wonder Woman, Charlie's Angels, and Murder, She Wrote. After that, he started doing voice acting. At the same time, he also proved to be a talented songwriter, screenwriter, and portrait painter.

He became a hugely recognizable figure in pop culture, but under the Batman mask in the PSA, Gautier proved he also made for a passable knock-off Adam West. It's likely some Batman fans didn't pay close enough attention to even realize it wasn't the same actor.

Before he became an actor, Gautier was just a kid who grew up just outside Hollywood studios, where his dad worked as a technician and his mother worked in wardrobe. He never planned to be an actor, moving to New York and doing everything from demonstrating pogo sticks to sandblasting rough city surfaces.

"Anything for a buck," he told The Eagle-Gazette.

But looking back on his success as a leading man, comedic charmer, and even one-time Batman, Gautier later recognized that acting was in his blood from a young age and he just didn't realize it.

"It's a funny thing," Gautier said. "I was turned on as a ham before I was even aware that my parents worked in a movie studio."

Watch Happy Days on MeTV!

Weeknights at 6:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

60 Comments

Post a comment
23 days ago
I remember him best as "Hymie," on Get Smart.
RobertM 24 days ago
He was also in the 1970's version of "Match Game" as well an episode of the 1980's sitcom "Too Close for Comfort", not to mention "Matlock".
AnnaRentzVandenhazel 25 days ago
Actually, I didn't know it was a different actor. I was 6 years old when the Batman series ended, and 9 or 10 when I saw the "Equal Pay" commercial. I thought Batman's voice was a little different, but chalked it up to poor memory since I hadn't heard Adam West speak for 3-4 years.
audie65 25 days ago
Loved him in " When things were rotten" TV series when I was about 10 mid 80's. Was a spoof on Robin Hood. In the theme song they said he robbed the rich,gave to the poor****except what he kept for expenses!! Loved it!
Runeshaper 25 days ago
Hymie!!! That's AWESOME! I wish MeTV could provide a link to the commercial he was in, if it was archived somewhere. That would be a nice addition to articles such as there (-:

*Props to @denny for sharing it!
denny 26 days ago
Mannixishot denny 25 days ago
He does a pretty good job copying Adam's voice. I don't think ever watched anything with Dick in it so I'm not sure if that's his normal voice or if he studied Adam long enough to be able to nail the take.

As for Adam, I don't blame him for not coming back for the ad. It's disappointing he got lumped in with being a hammy actor because of the Batman tv series. I've seen him on "The Rifleman" and "Mannix" and he's a good actor.
denny 26 days ago
The PSA would've been better if they were talking about women's lib and Batgirl would've burned her bra.
ncadams27 26 days ago
I didn’t know that Robin and Batgirl worked for Batman. Maybe that’s why they enter the Batcave in a clock - so Robin can punch-in.
Michael 27 days ago
They really should have done an ad with Dick Gautier, John Astin, and Lee Meriweather and one of the Mr Freezes (three actors, two episodes each).
Wiseguy Michael 27 days ago
An ad for what? And it's Meriwether, not Meriweather.
stephaniestavr5 Wiseguy 26 days ago
It's a free country! He can spell words whichever way he wants. It's not a crime. As nice a woman as Lee seems to be, I doubt (of course I could be mistaken,) that if she were to find out someone misspelled her name....She would have them shackled in irons, lock them in a dungeon and throw away the key! Which sounds exactly what you would like to see happen to Michael, or anyone that makes a grammatical error.
You are not perfect, Wiseguy. I have seen some errors on your replies, and no one has called you on the carpet for yours, like you are doing to others. It sounds like you love raking people over the coals. Well, we, (some us any way,) don't appreciate, and we don't like it Here's challenge for you: I bet you can't just comment on what somebody says, without correcting their spelling, can you?
Dave62 Wiseguy 26 days ago
It's Merriweather
Moody Dave62 25 days ago
A simple Google search will tell you it's Meriwether.
Jimo 27 days ago
Doda doda doda doda......BATMAN!
Catman 27 days ago
Well I never saw that PSA but this is a great article. Thanks for the trivia!
stephaniestavr5 Catman 26 days ago
I think said PSA, is still available for viewing on You Tube.
denny Catman 26 days ago
I just posted it above.
JoeSHill 27 days ago
Dick Gautier was indeed a fine actor with great credentials, like the 1975 ABC/Paramount TV series, "WHEN THINGS WERE ROTTEN", But one of Dick Gautier's other talents was his skill in artistic caricatures, and this man was damned good at this art, and even did a book on this artistic skill, and he's almost as good as legendary caricature artist, Jack Davis, who was famous for his commercial art!
F5Twitster 27 days ago
Okay, Dick, if it'll make you happy, you're the homeliest man who ever lived.
Tresix 28 days ago
I remember learning that it was Gautier and not West in that ad on one of those “before they were stars” specials. This isn’t Gautier’s only Batman connection: He voiced several characters on “Batman: The Animated Series”.
Zip 28 days ago
Interesting. I never knew he played Batman at all. But remembering seeing him act on other shows I think he would have been pretty good as Batman.
stephaniestavr5 Zip 26 days ago
I think he would've been good as The Riddler. Not to take anything away from John Astin's interpretation of the character, (which wasn't bad,) Dick's might've been better. But, of course, we'll never know.
Moody stephaniestavr5 25 days ago
To me, Frank Gorshin has always been the best Riddler. I thought his characterization was much better than John Astin's. But that's just my opinion.
AgingDisgracefully 28 days ago
Dick Gautier's Greatest Hymie-on-Get-Smart Moment*:
Max: Answer the door, Hymie.
Hymie: Yes, door.

(*Though many argue it was the movies he supplied for Max's bachelor party: Holland - Land of Dikes and Tulips, Up The Colorado By Kayak and The Wonderful World of Zinc.)
Who's arguing about this?
Perhaps not in your orbit of wisdom, but at The Barbershop of Shrill Shouting the debate continues.
Parse on, Terranova!
waccooga 28 days ago
You forgot his best role! He played Robin Hood in "When Things were Rotten!"
Wiseguy waccooga 27 days ago
Just because something isn't mentioned doesn't mean it was "forgotten."
All it means when someone "forgets to mention" something is: A. They never thought to mention it, (it never entered their mind.) B. They did think of it, but chose not to "say"/type anything.
Catman Wiseguy 26 days ago
OK, Wiseguy. You're smarter and wittier than all the others. Now settle down, son, and watch the grownups talk.
RodLabbe 28 days ago
The PSA doesn't end on a cliffhanger. Batman agrees to Batgirl's terms, and she switches off the bomb.
Tresix RodLabbe 28 days ago
https://youtu.be/jisXvxeW9p8
BrittReid 28 days ago
Briefly as Batman , like sixty seconds.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?