Whatever became of...? (1989)


Television's "Batgirl" was born in Taylorville, Illinois, on May 16.

Yvonne took to dancing from her first class. The Craigs lived in Columbus, Ohio, during her childhood. When her parents decided to move to Texas, she made them promise she could attend the prestigious Edith James School in Dallas.

She was thought to be very promising at the dance academy and was featured in its Christmas show. The guest of honor, the prima ballerina absoluta Alexandra Danilova, was so impressed she set up auditions for the teenager with George Balanchine and Fergei J. Denham. Both made offers, but Yvonne chose to go with Denham's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

In 1957 she left the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in what she describes as a "snit." The company was playing the Metropolitan Opera, when at the last minute she was replaced as the second lead. Feeling that Mme. Danilova, who had ordered the change, had broken her promise, Yvonne walked out on her contract.

She intended, when she moved to Los Angeles, to continue her study of dance, but shortly after her arrival she was "discovered" while dining with a producer. Another producer and the son of director John Ford approached her with an offer to test for a part in a picture opposite Patrick Wayne.

That film, The Young Land, was shot in 1957 but was not released for two years. In the meantime she had been cast in Eighteen and Anxious (1957) with Luana Patten.

The movies that followed were Gidget (1959) with Sandra Dee; The Gene Krupa Story (1959), in which she seduces Sal Mineo who played a seminarian; By Love Possessed (1961); Seven Women from Hell (1962); Quick Before It Melts (1965) with the late Doodles Weaver; One Spy Too Many (1966) with Dorothy Provine; In Like Flint (1967); and How to Frame a Figg (1971).

In High Time (1960) she danced with Bing Crosby and became involved with Jimmy Boyd, who was then a roommate of Lindsay Crosby. Boyd had become famous as a boy when in the early fifties his recording of "I Saw Mommie Kissing Santa Claus" was a huge seller.

According to Yvonne: "We fell in lust and got married. We were too young and dumb to heed the advice that John Forsythe gave us, which was to live together for a while first. That wasn't being done much in 1960. Jimmy was a lot of fun, but during the two years we were husband and wife he never once worked. I was responsible for everything, including his personal debts."

Yvonne dated Elvis Presley when she appeared with him in It Happened at the Worlds Fair (1963) and Kissin' Cousins (1964), but their relationship was never serious. She considered marriage to Mort Sahl, who was her lover for more than three years, and later was deeply involved with Bill Bixby.

When the green-eyed Yvonne Craig is recognized today it is usually for portraying "Batgirl" on the television show Batman. She brought great exuberance to the role and played it with a sense of camp that is rare in so young an actress.

Of her experiences as "Batgirl" she said recently: "I was very well paid and it was a happy set. They even let me do most of my own stunts. I loved working with stars such as Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, and Rudy Vallee. And contrary to what had been predicted, it did not typecast me. Unlike Adam West and Burt Ward, I worked a lot after the show ceased production."

After Batman she guested on Star Trek, Starsky & Hutch, and The Six Million Dollar Man. But when Yvonne began turning down roles that she refers to as "the bubblehead in the bikini," no other parts were offered.

For a time she functioned as coproducer of industrial shows and an independent feature. Since then she has been in the real estate business. In the mid-eighties she made herself available for parts again but found that most of the contacts she once had at studios were no longer there.

In Ms. Craig's opinion, "It's much easier to start a career than to reactivate one. Agents I approached explained that to me and I know they're right. Perhaps if I were not such a reclusive person, I'd have more of a chance, but I am, and I have no desire to change. The truth is that acting came easily to me and I really enjoyed it, but the rest of what went on was a bore. Today I wouldn't have the patience to put up with all the bullshit."

Yvonne Craig married an attorney in early 1988. They share their ocean-view apartment with a long-haired tortoise cat.





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