Bad Girls We Love: Molly from Batman (1966)

Decades before Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) movie ignited Batmania across the land, the original Batmania spread like wildfire after the debut episodes of the 1966–1968 Batman television series. One of the few instances of an honest-to-goodness pop culture phenomenon, Batman’s camp sensibilities and colorful pop art style endeared it to millions of fans, including yours truly. I discovered it in reruns when I was around 4 or 5, circa 1980. I was hooked, and the world of Batman—both in the comics and on the screen—became my obsession as a child.

I would lie on the floor in the den and watch episodes of Batman all day—until my mother would eventually kick me outside to get some fresh air. Some of the earliest episodes I saw were the two-part series debut, “Hi Diddle Diddle” and “Smack in the Middle” with Adam West’s Batman and Burt Ward’s Robin battling Frank Gorshin’s Riddler. It also featured the stunningly beautiful Jill St. John as the Riddler’s stylish and sophisticated henchwoman Molly—the first in a long line of beautiful gun molls the series would partner with villains like Joker, Penguin, Mad Hatter, and Clock King, to name just a few.

As great as many of them were, few were ever as memorable as Molly. For starters, she was played magnificently by future Bond Girl St. John, meaning she was easy on the eyes and brought a certain gravitas to the role that later gun molls couldn’t always match. Her stylishly coifed red hair, groovy wardrobe, and sly smile made Molly the discerning fan’s Bat-crush.

As if appearing in the first two episodes wasn’t enough to secure her a place in Bat-history, Molly also played a key role in one of the series’ most recognizable moments when she danced the famous Batusi with Batman. She also blew all sorts of minds by pouring her hourglass figure into Robin’s costume in the second episode. To this day, images of her in the red, gold, and green outfit is enough to make fanboys and fangirls feel more than a little woozy.

Across these two episodes, Molly helps the Riddler (and the rest of his Mole Hill Mob) wreak havoc against the Dynamic Duo. Eventually, she infiltrates the secret Batcave disguised as Robin. Batman is hip to her chicanery, though. An unmasked Molly tries to shoot the Caped Crusader, but he’s already disabled her gun. Trapped in the cave, she climbs the atomic tower used to power the Batmobile, which in hindsight was not a great idea on her part. She panics at the top and Batman tries to save her, but she slips and falls to her doom, vaporized inside the atomic reactor. Batman solemnly intones, “What a way to go go,” which is the name of the discotheque where Molly worked when we first met her. This is hardly a time for flippant jokes, Batman. Sheesh.

Molly’s death was absolutely traumatic for me as a little kid. It felt so out of step with the show’s light and campy tone to kill off a villain like this. The series seemed to notice, and avoided any such similar deaths moving forward. Obviously I was enthralled by Molly: she was a villain, but she was so darn swoon-worthy! My young heart was positively crushed when she died.

I wasn’t alone. Alongside Molly’s tragic end, her series-defining iconic moments in the debut episodes—dancing the Batusi and dressing as a sexy Robin—have made her a favorite supporting player ever since. The Riddler might’ve lived to fight Batman another day, but Molly lives on in the hearts of Batman fans everywhere.

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