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A Chat With Yvonne Craig

Yvonne Craig as BatgirlLarry Hart is a die hard fan of Yvonne Craig and her role as televsion’s Batgirl to the Dynamic Duo of Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin. Hart jumped at the opportunity to interview Yvonne. This interview was first published some years ago and was “lost” for a while. We’re happy to share it again!

Mention the name Yvonne Craig and chances are that people will conjure an image of Batgirl from the 1960’s Batman TV show in their minds. At the age of ten though, Yvonne expressed an interest in ballet, and convinced her parents to study at a prestigious school in Dallas where the family had moved to from Columbus, Ohio. Yvonne showed incredible talent, and soon auditioned for and was accepted by two important ballet companies. At 16, she joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as one of its youngest members.

Three years later, she broke her contract when she felt that the ballet’s principal ballerina had broken a promise and had her replaced as second lead. Yvonne moved to Los Angeles with the intention of studying dance further, but started an acting career while hoping to enter into a new ballet company. Yvonne was in a number of movies and made guest appearances in TV shows, the most remembered being Batman. Her acting career slowed when she started passing over “bikini” roles. After trying her hand at coaching and producing, she found herself working in real estate where she owned her own business.

Yvonne met Kenneth Aldrich, a real estate developer, whom she later married, and they’ve traveled together to such places as Peru, New Zealand, and Africa. In between convention appearances, Yvonne worked on her autobiography, From Ballet To Batcave And Beyond.

Yvonne Craig

Larry Hart: Different factors motivate different people to write about their lives. What were the motivating factors for you to write your autobiography? Did you write it for fun? Was it a kind of “healing” experience in any way for you? Was writing it an easy process for you or was it a mixed bag? Sometimes easy, other times less so?

Yyonne Craig: I was influenced by my sister and husband to write my autobiography for about five years before I ever did so. It was not a healing experience in any way – fun to go back and visit some of the memories of days past and remember some of the incidents. Once I found that I could dictate and not

LH: Different factors motivate different people to write about their lives. What were the motivating factors for you to write your autobiography? Did you write it for fun? Was it a kind of “healing” experience in any way for you? Was writing it an easy process for you or was it a mixed bag? Sometimes easy, other times less so?

LH: Do you feel that you accomplished all that you intended to do with writing your book?

YC: Yes, and more.

LH: The character of Barbara Gordon was that of a competent but rather sedate woman. Batgirl on the other hand was physically active, vivacious and was mainly the opposite. Did you see that as indicative to the changing roles of women at the time?

YC: At the time, I didn’t even think about it. I have been asked many times if I saw myself as a role model for the changing woman of the 60’s – Actually, I never even had that in mind and don’t think the writers did either – it just happened. They took a woman’s role and let her be somewhat (but not totally) equal with the role of the men in that series. I never actually saw Barbara Gordon as sedate – she was rather opinionated and bossy.

LH: How did you define the characters of Batgirl/Barbara Gordon for people, specifically children and teens? Or was there room for you to put your personal stamp on the characters. In the promo piece for the networks, Batgirl had a sassy demeanor. That trait didn’t really carry over to the program. Did you miss that aspect?

YC: The writers defined the personality of both Batgirl and Barbara Gordon – we looked at the promo that had been done for the executives and decided to tone down Barbara a bit as she was a little too bossy. A lot of both Batgirl and Barbara Gordon was who I was at that time in my life, so maybe that was the only stamp I had on the character – I had no input on the writing.

LH: The role of Batgirl was a that of a strong woman. Within a few years there was also Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman and Lindsey Wagner as the Bionic Woman. Did you think then that it was a pioneering role in the world of popular culture? Or have you ever thought that was the case?

YC: Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and people have put more empahsis on being a pioneering role etc. than was actually in anyone’s mind at the time.

Yvonne Craig
LH: Was the character of Marta on Star Trek the first time you played a villain? Did you prefer playing the villain over the heroine?

YC: I never saw Marta as a villain, just a crazy person. Both roles were fun characters for me to play.

LH: You’ve mentioned in the past that you were reluctant to read a comic book let alone watch one on TV (in reference to the Batman show). What was it about the character which made you decide to play her?

YC: I wanted to be in a series and be a character that would be remembered. This was a perfect role for that. Granted I had never watched the show, and have never been a comic book fan but I promised if I were to do the part I would spend the summer catching up on reruns and have an idea of the characters and what they were about. This is all covered in more detail in my book “From Ballet to the Batcave and Beyond.”

LH: Do you feel that early experiences such as traveling with a touring company at a young age contributed to your success?

YC: I think it helped to make me a more independent and mature person for my years. So I guess the answer would be yes.

LH: At any time did you think that there would still be such a following of one character that you played?

YC: I’m pleased but also amazed that this has happened and believe that it is only because ot the technology of television and reruns that this has come about. We are now seeing second and third generations of new viewers being attracted to this show. And no, I did not have ESP and say, “Wow this will be a great role that people will remember me in for many years to come “. It didn’t work that way. I think all of us are amazed at the continued popularity of this series.

To read more about her and to purchase her book, visit Yvonne Craig’s official website.

March 7, 2015
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