|Van Williams as The Green Hornet and Bruce Lee as Kato|
The whole country went "Bat-Mad"!
Anything and everything comics-oriented sold like crazy!
Radio syndicator Charles Michelson quickly put together a package of old superhero radio shows including The Shadow, Superman (which featured Batman as a guest-star), The Lone Ranger, and The Green Hornet and marketed them to local radio stations (where, in some cases, ratings doubled) as well as issuing them on lp record albums (which sold well).
|Cover to one of the 1960s lp albums re-presenting classic radio adventures|
Dozier had been listening to the re-issued radio shows and decided The Green Hornet would make a good follow-up to Batman, despite the fact that the last new radio show aired in 1952, and the last new comic (which we presented HERE) was published in 1953!
(Batman had been continually-published since 1939.)
But audience response to the radio show re-runs, especially among adults (who remembered the show) and college students (who were discovering it) was good, so Dozier felt it was worth a try...
Both Dozier and original Hornet creator George Trendle felt the "camp" approach used on Batman would be inappropriate.
Trendle pointed out that doing a "straight" version of his other character, The Lone Ranger, resulted in a long-running tv show and two successful feature films!
So ABC agreed to do it their way...but with some "updating".
|Art by Dan Spiegle|
The Hornet retained his knockout-gas gun, but added an ultrasonic "Hornet Sting", which quickly became his primary weapon.
Since Batman worked with a police comissioner, The Hornet's police comissioner liaison became District Attorney Frank Scanlon (who, unlike Batman's Comissioner Gordon, knew The Hornet's secret identity and that he wasn't the criminal he pretended to be.)
In a compromise, there were no costumed super-villains, but the gangsters could use cutting-edge technology and unique weapons, like a radio-controlled leopard or a laser gun.
Dozier himself promoted the differences between the two shows in a promo shown only to tv station owners (note the two different Hornet logos that weren't used in the final version)...
(Note: near the end of the show's run, there was an attempt to introduce more flamboyant enemies including a cloaked assassin and a mad scientist pretending to be an alien invader.)
ABC also insisted that "Flight of the Bumblebee" was too dated to be used as the show's theme. Dozier brought in jazz musician Billy May, who had previoiusly done music for tv shows like Naked City, to compose an updated version.
With trumpeter Al Hirt performing, the new theme became the show's signature element, recognizable almost 50 years later...
The Green Hornet debuted on September 9th, 1966 to solid (but not Batman-level) ratings.
|On-set photo from the Batman episode "Batman's Satisfaction"|
It found a new home in reruns, which are must-see viewing, since the series is not available on DVD/BluRay!
You can see it on MeTV every Saturday morning at 8am, Eastern time.
Ironically, since there wasn't a Green Hornet comic book at the time, a new series (based on the TV show) from Gold Key (the premier publisher of Silver Age movie/tv tie-in comics) hit newsstands in late 1966.
It only lasted three issues and has never been reprinted.
From 1966, here's The Green Hornet's first comic appearance in 13 years...
Can The Green Hornet figure out how the gangsters are pulling off these robberies with the aid of the victims?
And, what's the connection between his old friend and the criminals?
This post is so full of stuff, we couldn't fit the whole story in, so...
(Oops, wrong show!)
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