Yvonne Craig, widely popular for her role as crime fighter Batgirl on the 1960s series “Batman,” passed away Monday night. She was 78.
Craig, who was also a former ballerina, died as a result of breast cancer, which had eventually spread to her liver, her nephew, Christopher Carson, said. She died at her home in Pacific Palisades.
She also appeared in a third season “Star Trek” episode, Whom Gods Destroy (1969), as the green Orion Slave Girl, Marta, who wanted to kill Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner).
Sad to learn of Yvonne's passing. As Batgirl she was one of America's sweethearts.
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) August 19, 2015
According to CNN, her family said in a statement, “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.”
‘When I was a little girl, I realized that girls could kick butt just like guys’
Craig was Batgirl in the third and final season of “Batman.” The female crime fighter played the role alongside Adam West and Burt Ward, who portrayed Batman and Robin, respectively.
In an interview earlier this year, Craig said, “I hear from women that I was their role model.
“‘When I was a little girl, I realized that girls could kick butt just like guys,’ [they’d say].”
Born in Taylorville, Illinois – but growing up in Columbus, Ohio – she became a member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the 1950s. She gradually made her way into the world of acting, appearing on “Gidget,” “The Young Land,” and “The Gene Krupa Story” in 1959.
In the 1960s, she also appeared on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” in addition to playing the role of five different girlfriends to Dwayne Hickman’s Dobie Gillis on “The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis”, as reported by A.V. Club.
She dated Elvis Presley for a short while, appearing in two films with him, “It Happened At The World’s Fair” (1963) and “Kissin’ Cousins” (1964).
Craig joined the cast of “Batman” in the third and final season.
Her role as the iconic crime fighter Batgirl
According to The Hollywood Reporter, she was approached for the role of Batgirl/librarian Barbara Gordon, daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon (played by Neil Hamilton), by producer William Dozier.
Craig had done an unsold sitcom pilot for Dozier years earlier.
“When I got there, he said, ‘We’re thinking of adding a new character to the Batman series — Batgirl. Would you be interested in doing it?’ I said, ‘Very!’,” she said.
Craig said her character was included in the show “because they needed someone who could encourage an over-40 male audience and a prepubescent female audience. That’s the real reason why they hired me!”
She did her own stunts and motorcycle riding on the show.
Lately, she voiced for Grandma in the 2009 cartoon series “Olivia.” She was the executive producer for the documentary feature “BIRTH” and also worked as a real estate broker.
She wrote a memoir, “From Ballet to the Batcave and Beyond,” in 2001.
Craig is survived by her husband Kenneth Aldrich, her sister Meridel Carson, and nephews Christopher and Todd Carson.