Tuesday, December 19, 2006



In the last first-run broadcast of a 'Brothers & Sisters' episode, Cooper Whedon was singing a traditional Christmas favorite.....

Jingle Bells
Batman smells
Robin laid an egg
lost its wheel
and Joker got away

Yeah... it never gets old.....

What makes it different for young Master Cooper is that he lives in a world where Batman actually exists.

For Earth Prime-Time, Batman fought crime and served the citizens of Gotham City beginning in the mid-1960s. (The cartoon versions all exist in the Tooniverse. 'Birds of Prey', about Batman's daughter and her crime-fighting allies, takes place in an alternate TV dimension, most likely the evil mirror universe.)

That inocuous jingle would then have some basis in "reality" for its origins.

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the encounter between Batman and Robin with Santa Claus. It was December, 1966 and the Dynamic Duo were doing one of their famous Bat-climbs up the side of a building in pursuit of the minor villain The Puzzler.

Suddenly, when what to their wondering eyes should appear but Santa Claus, who threw open the sash and popped his head out of one of the windows to see what was the matter as they passed by.

Sorry about that, Chief. Got carried away......

We can say for certain that Santa Claus was appearing in yet another of his guises, instead of with his normal visage that makes him look like the actor Charles Durning. Even buried under a rather fulsome white beard, you can tell he was assuming a new incarnation, if just for the voice alone! (A Real World note: Santa Claus was played by character actor Andy Devine, whose uniquely scratchy twang was due to an accident as a child, when he had been running with a stick in his mouth and he scratched his vocal chords.)

It could be that The Minstrel found out about their meeting with Kris Kringle and composed that little ditty as a way of needling the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder. Perhaps their arch-villain The Joker heard about it as it made the rounds of the Gotham City criminal underworld. And if so, of course he would have seen to it that the lyrics were slightly altered so that he would be the one to come out looking good.

Of course, there are other possibilities when it comes to the identity of St. Nick. He may not have been the real Santa Claus, but just a guy dressed up in the red suit for an office party or to give the little children of Gotham City a chance to tell Santa their last minute wishes for Christmas.

Perhaps, being full of the Christmas Spirit (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), he presented himself to Batman and Robin as if he really was Santa Claus. And they, being respectful towards the citizenry of Gotham even if they were inebriated, obligingly played along with the deception.

He could also have been a character we met before in 'The Twilight Zone', by the name of Frisby. He lived in North Carolina, not far from Mayberry of 'The Andy Griffith Show'. (Floyd the Barber's identical cousin lived there. Maybe it was his half-brother - Old Man Lawson must have been a horndog!)

As to why Frisby was up north in Gotham City, dressed as Santa Claus? Well, that would more than likely be the basis for yet another tall tale that would entertain his friends back at the general store. And the fact that he met Batman and Robin would be almost as big a whopper to them as the time when he told them that he was kidnapped by aliens!

Perhaps one of those cracker barrel buddies pulled out his banjo and first played the 'Jingle Bells' parody right there.

Or maybe not.....

There's still one more possible player behind the beard - Andy Devine himself!

Andy Devine was the host of a children's show called 'Andy's Gang' from 1955 to 1960, replacing Smilin' Ed McConnell who passed away in 1954. And like all variety shows, 'Andy's Gang' would also have a counterpart within the TV Universe.

So Smilin' Andy could have been on a promotional tour across the country for the show, which in Toobworld would still be running by 1966. (In the Real World, it went off the air in 1960.) And being "Tis the season", Andy was probably dressed up as Santa Claus for his Gotham City appearance.

When he looked out that window and saw Batman and Robin, he may have been surrounded by the little children, some of whom were probably residents of the Gotham City Orphanage (which by the year 3000 may be known as the Gotham City Orphanarium). Their lives would have been full of enough pain as it was without him breaking character to reveal who he truly was to the Dynamic Duo.

If so, it could be that Batman was able to see inside the room and see kids gathered around and so he willingly played along.

If this had been Andy Devine appearing as Santa Claus for an 'Andy's Gang' promotional tour, then there can be only one culprit as to who thunked up that derisive spoof of 'Jingle Bells' - Andy's co-star Froggy the Gremlin!

It certainly sounds like the kind of mean-spirited and childish doggerel Froggy might have come up with to taunt Andy. Batman and Robin were probably lucky that Froggy didn't plunk his magic twanger to cause their Bat-rope to snap!

Like I said, those are just possibilities. However, this being such a magical season, I think I'll just stick with the simple splainin:

Batman and Robin actually did meet Santa Claus in December of 1966, and that historic encounter became the inspiration for a modern-day "folk song".


If you want to see what Santa Claus looked like when he met Batman and Robin, click
here. And then follow the links to the page about the Bat-Climb. [Afterwards, check out the entire site. It's a great salute to the 1966 'Batman TV show!]

Also, Fred Hembeck has a HUGE page of "Santa Heads" (which may take some time loading!), in which there's a comic book representation of a meeting between Batman and Santa Claus. You can find it about 39 rows down......

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