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‘Batman’ TV Series Creator Lorenzo Semple Jr. Dead at 91

Hana Kalvachovaisifa, Getty Images

Lorenzo Semple Jr., the screenwriter best known for creating the hilariously campy ‘Batman’ TV series from the 1960s, has passed away at the age of 91.

As first reported by THR, Semple had just turned 91 this past Thursday and passed away on Friday of natural causes in his home in Los Angeles.

Born on March 27, 1923 in New Rochelle, New York, Semple broke into Hollywood as a screenwriter, penning episodes of ‘Buckskin,’ ‘Target’ and ‘The Rogues’ throughout the mid ’50s and early ’60s. He made his name by writing the screenplay for 1966′s ‘Batman: The Movie’ and creating the follow-up series in 1968. Sharing the same cast and silly tone of the film, ‘Batman’ starred Adam West and Burt Ward as the Caped Crusader and Robin, running for two years and 120 episodes. Semple penned 14 episodes and was a script consultant on 86 more. He’s also known for conceptualizing the cartoonish sound effects played over fight scenes (e.g. “Pow!” “Zap!” “Kapow!”) and naming all of Batman’s “Bat-” gadgets.

“I think ‘Batman’ was the best thing I ever wrote, including those big movies,” he said back in 2008. “As a whole work, it came out the way that I wanted it to, and I was excited by it. I once went down to a fancy wine-tasting benefit in Princeton. When people found out I wrote ‘Batman,’ they mobbed me! I was astounded.”

After ‘Batman,’ Semple continued to work as a screenwriter of major motion pictures, writing or contributing to the screenplays for ‘Papillon,’ ‘The Parallax View,’ ‘Three Days of the Condor,’ the remake of ‘King Kong,’ ‘Flash Gordan’ and ‘Never Say Never Again.’ With a career that includes fantasy epics, science-fiction adventures, monster movies, prison escape films and topical, paranoia-drenched thrillers, Semple proved time and time again that he could work outside of ‘Batman”s campy comedy.

But he’ll always be remembered best as the guy who brought us the funniest, cheeriest and most clever take on Gotham City’s number one defender. Anyone can write a scene where Batman punches a bad guy, but Lorenzo Semple Jr. wrote a scene where Batman sprays a shark with shark repellant.

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