Yvonne Craig AKA Batgirl Dies, Leaving Behind A Legacy As One Of The First Iconic Female Superheroes
Known for her uber cool role as Batman's sidekick, Yvonne Craig aka Batgirl died Monday in her Pacific Palisades home in California. She was 78. For the past two years, the actress and accomplished ballet dancer had battled breast cancer before it finally metastasized to her liver. She is survived by her husband Kenneth Aldrich, her sister Meridel Carson, and nephews Christopher and Todd Carson. Regarding her battle with cancer, her family released a statement to CNN:
This didn't dampen her sense of humor or her spirit, she intended to fight and win this battle. In the end, her mind still wanted to fight but her body had given up.
Craig's most recognizable role would be her portrayal of the purple-and-yellow-clad Batgirl. She starred in the third and final season of the 1960s live-action Batman series with Adam West and Burt Ward, bringing a much needed female presence to the crime-fighting team. Batgirl was both beautiful and intelligent, and she often bailed the men out of trouble.
Her nephew Christopher told Bustle via email that Craig loved interacting with her fans and was proud of her accomplishments as the legendary Batgirl.
She was really proud of the fact that so many young people had discovered the Batman series and had been inspired by her role as Batgirl. She had no idea at the time how many people would resonate with that character.
In her early days, Craig was an acclaimed dancer, becoming the youngest member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the 1950s. It was after her work as a dancer that she began to pursue an acting career, starring in films like It Happened At The World's Fair and Kissin' Cousins, both with Elvis Presley. After her stint as Batgirl, Craig also made a number of appearances in various television shows such as Mod Squad, Star Trek, and The Six Million Dollar Man.
Upon leaving the acting world, Craig worked in real estate, according to her website, and went into a prepaid phone card business with her sister. She also penned a memoir titled From Ballet To The Batcave And Beyond and advocated for women's rights, such as equal pay and free mammograms for women who couldn't afford them.
With superhero films dominating the box office in the last decade, it's easy to forget comic book characters' humble roots on the small screen. Even behind a mask, Craig was an iconic face during the 1960s, proving a woman could "kapow!" and "zoink!" the bad guys just as well as the men did.