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'Batgirl' dead: TV pioneer Yvonne Craig, 78, leaves 'kick butt' legacy

Yvonne Craig as Batgirl, was first TV female superhero. She died of breast cancer.
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"Batgirl" Yvonne Craig, a true television pioneer who paved the way for female superheroes on her Batcycle, has succumbed to breast cancer. She was 78.

|<image-caption/>|Wikimedia Commons

Her family announced her passing on the star's website.

"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," the family statement said.

|<image-caption><p>Yvonne Craig.</p></image-caption>|Wikimedia Commons

RELATED:Shannen Doherty has breast cancer.

"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."

Craig joined Burt Ward (Robin) and Adam West (Batman) in the third and final season of the Batman television series in 1967.

She played Barbara Gordon, the sharp-as-a-tack daughter of Commissioner Gordon who joined the campy dynamic duo to battle the Penguin and other Gotham City villains.

|<image-caption><p>Craig as 'Trek' slave girl Marta.</p></image-caption>|Wikimedia

She even had her own, super-funky them (see video above) music. Craig's batgirl tooled around Gotham's streets on a lace-frilled purple Batcycle.

A secret wall that spun around in her very feminine bedroom -- there was no cave -- hid her vanity and Batgirl outfit.

RELATED:Looking back at 'Batkid.'

Craig also had one of the most memorable female appearances on Star Trek, playing th green-skinned seductive Orion slave girl, Marta.

A trained dancer, the athletic Craig did most of her own stunts.

Her family said that Craig did not want her loved ones or fans to "waste a moment of their time in mourning for her loss in sadness."

Instead, she wanted them to "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."

"I hear from women that I was their role model," she oncetold CNN.

"'When I was a little girl, I realized that girls couldkick buttjust like guys."

(The full family obituary follows)

YVONNE CRAIG
May 16, 1937 – August 17, 2015

Yvonne Craig passed away at her home in Pacific Palisades, surrounded by her immediate family and comforted by Hospice yesterday night. She died from complications brought about from breast cancer that had metastasized to her liver. She is survived by her husband, Kenneth Aldrich, her sister Meridel Carson and nephews Christopher and Todd Carson. A private service is being planned with no date set at the present time. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to: The Angeles Clinic Foundation by mail at 2001 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404 or by going into their website atwww.theangelesclinicfoundation.organd following the “Donate” link.

Yvonne Craig began her theatrical career as the youngest member of The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and toured for three years when she was accidentally discovered by John Ford’s son Patrick and cast for the lead in the movieThe Young Land.

This was quickly followed by many years of film and television including two movies with Elvis Presley (It Happened at the World’s FairandKissin Cousins). However, she is probably best known for originating the role as Batgirl in the 1966 TV series ofBatman, or for her character “Marta” from the third season of Star Trek in the episodeWhom God’s Destroywhere she played the well remembered insane green Orion Slave Girl who wanted to kill Captain Kirk.

Over a span of years she appeared as a guest star in many television series, includingThe Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Six Million Dollar Man,Land of the Giants, Mod Squad, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Love American Style, Emergency, and Courtship of Eddie’s Fatherjust to name a few and worked opposite Bing Crosby, Sal Mineo, Don Knotts, George Hamilton, Dwayne Hickman, Dennis Hopper as well as Elvis Presley and James Coburn.

Her next career was that of a real estate broker where she was involved not only in commercial real estate, but also residential income properties for a period of years and still held a real estate license.

Yvonne and her sister, Meridel went into the prepaid phone card business at its inception producing phone cards for charitable events as well as promotional phone cards for the Paramount filmCluelessand both Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny cards for Warner Bros. stores, as well as many charitable organizations for fundraisers.

In 2000, Ms. Craig wrote a book of anecdotal memoirs,From Ballet to the Batcave and Beyond, which covered some of her years in the ballet and her theatrical career.

She actively did voice over work including voicing the role of Grandma in the 2009Oliviacartoon series for Nickelodeon, and she was recently Executive Producer for the documentary feature film BIRTH.

She and her husband have traveled extensively all over the world, preferring adventure type travel, which has taken them to many countries through the years, and back to Africa seven times.

Yvonne has been involved with social work as well as philanthropic work through the years, and was a public voice to support worker unions and equal pay for woman, as well as supporting free mammograms for women who cannot afford them.

She and her husband have also been advocates of education and long time supporters of education on all levels. They are actively involved with the Phillips Brooks House Association at Harvard, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, two different charter schools, and the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals out of St. Mary’s College of California better known as LEAP. She also volunteered time and tutored and mentored disadvantaged students.

John A. Oswald is editor-at-large at Metro and can be found on Twitter@nyc_oz.
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