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How the Batman TV Series Brought Alfred Back To Life in 1966

In "Follow the Path," I spotlight changes made to comic book characters that are based on outside media, as well as characters who entirely came from outside media. I’m sure you can think of other examples, so feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you want to suggest some other examples for future installments.

Today's Batman Day, so I figured I'd do a couple more Batman bits for our West Coast readers while it's still Batman Day in California!

In this installment, we'll look at how the Batman TV series brought Alfred back to life! In one of my earliest Follow the Path installments, I talked about how the Batman film serial led to Alfred becoming thin after debuting as a rotund fellow. Now we'll talk about the influence of the Batman TV series in bringing Alfred back to life!

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In 1964, Julius Schwartz took over the Batman books (along with Carmine Infantino as a new artist and also sort of a creative consultant) and one of the first things that Schwartz and Infantino did on the titles was to jettison most of the supporting cast from earlier editor Jack Schiff's era. That meant no more Bat-Woman or Bat-Girl, who had been introduced to add love interests for Batman and Robin to get over the Seduction of Innocent's charges that Batman and Robin's relationship was sort of an idealized gay relationship.

However, even though it was now a decade past Seduction of the Innocent, Schwartz still felt the same pressures that Schiff felt. He just dealt with them in a different fashion. He felt that there were just too many single guys in Wayne Manor. One of them had to go and Alfred drew the short straw.

In Detective Comics #328 (by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella), Alfred dies saving Batman and Robin...

Batman decides to honor his old friend by establishing a charitable foundation in Alfred's name...

This foundation remains in the comics to this day.

Just as Bruce and Dick were settling back into their lives without Alfred, things were thrown for a loop when Dick's Aunt Harriet shows up!

So yes, Schwartz's solution to prevent anyone from thinking of Bruce and Dick's situation as being too "gay" was to introduce Aunt Harriet to the comics for a female presence.

Hilariously, though, Batman was then picked up as a TV series a year later and the producer of the TV series, William Dozier, had read a few comic books from before Alfred's death as his inspiration for the TV show and so Dozier very much wanted Alfred involved in the new program. So DC then had to come up with a way to bring Alfred back into the comic book series so that it would match the TV show.

In Summer 1966's Detective Comics #356 (by Gardner Fox, Moldoff and Giella), which opened with an ad for the then-new Batman movie (that was released after Season 1 of the Batman TV series)...

Alfred was brought back to life but was accidentally turned evil!

By the end of the issue, of course, Alfred's split personality was resolved and he was back to being the loyal servant of Bruce and Dick. The Alfred Foundation was now the Wayne Foundation. Aunt Harriet thought that she would have to go now that Alfred was back, but, well, Aunt Harriet was ALSO on the TV series...

so she stayed!

Happy Batman Day, everyone!

That's it for this installment of Follow the Path! If anyone else has a suggestion for a comic book character changing due to TV or movies, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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