We are sad to report that Yvonne Craig, best known to many fans as the first Batgirl to grace television screens everywhere, has passed away. She was 78 years old.
Craig was a ballet dancer who moved to acting in her early twenties. She starred in two Elvis Presley films (It Happened at the World’s Fair and Kissin’ Cousins) before starring in the sci-fi cult classic Mars Needs Women. Her ballet training served her well in her career, leading her to play the part of a Russian ballet dancer in In Like Flint, and bring her movement sensibilities to Marta, an Orion woman in the original Star Trek series episode “Whom Gods Destroy.”
But Craig was best known to genre fans as Batgirl on the Adam West series of the 1960s, where she performed her own stunts alongside Adam West and Burt Ward. The character of Barbara Gordon originated with Craig in many respects–she debuted on the show and in the comics at the same time. For that reason, the Batman mythos and fans of female superheroes everywhere owe Yvonne Craig a debt of gratitude. She felt such an attachment to the part that she wrote to DC Comics to complain about Gordon’s treatment in Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke.
For a time she worked as a co-producer of industrial shows and then in real estate. Her family left a statement on her website about her battle with breast cancer, where they said:
“She had been in chemo almost continuously for the past two plus years since being diagnosed and that had weakened her immune system as well as her body. 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.”
They also had this message from her:
“Wish Number One, is that her family, friends and fans would know how much she loved them and always treasured her time with them. Wish Number Two, was that no one waste a moment of their time in mourning for her loss in sadness but instead celebrate the awesome life she had been fortunate enough to live. She felt that she lived a wonderful life and was blessed in many ways.”
Our condolences to her family, loved ones, and fans. Yvonne Craig will be missed, and we will celebrate her life as befits a rolemodel–and a hero.