One of the greatest things about being a fan of a cult classic television show, is meeting people that share your interest.
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Keith Mayo, a twelve year drill sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, retired maximum security correctional officer, and all around stand up guy.
Outside of comic convention displays, Keith has one of the the coolest specialized Batman collections related to the television show that I have ever seen.
After receiving a copy of the Life magazine from March 11, 1966 featuring Adam West as Batman on the cover in a trivia contest Keith ran in the Zap, Pow, Wham, It’s Batman 66!! group on Facebook, I decided to interview Keith about his awesome collection and give it the showcase it deserves.
Matthew Myers: Thanks for taking the time away from your Batcave to chat with me Keith, your collection is quite impressive. Did you first become a fan of Batman from the television show, or the comics?
Keith Mayo: Thanks for the compliment!
My collection is small compared to most folks, but that’s because of its narrow focus. I only collect items tied directly to the TV show and then only those that depict Adam West and Burt Ward. I like all the other character toys but for financial reasons I keep it simple and small, although the collection is growing still.
In January of 1966 when the TV show debuted I was 5 years old. Having been a sickly child who was hospitalized for long periods of time and being crippled, I started school late. Because of this, my mother taught me to read when I was 4 years old. I had just begun to read Batman and Detective Comics prior to seeing the show in its first run. Once I saw Adam West as Batman I pretty much dropped the comics. Since then, although I’ve enjoyed every version of the character, Adam West became my Batman.
Matthew: How do you feel the show impacted popular culture in the 1960’s when the show first aired?
Keith: I don’t think it impacted pop culture as much as it reflected the times. One thing that some folks seem to overlook is that the producers made a great effort to have the show look like a comic book. The wild color schemes, Dutch Angle villain shots, and of course the onomatopoetic “Biff” and “Pow” fight words came directly from the comic books of the time. If there was an impact made by the TV show, I think it may have been showing film actors that appearing on the small screen wouldn’t diminish their stock as movie stars.
Matthew: What lead to you starting a collection, and do you still have your first item?
Keith: My parents both worked full time jobs (which was rather odd in my 1960’s neighborhood) so they could afford to buy the Batmanesque items that hit the shelves. Although I didn’t get everything I wanted, I did have a lot. What disappointed me though was that the items sold during the Batmania of the day were modeled after the Infantino “New Look” Batman from the comics as opposed to the TV show. Unfortunately, due to my father having been an active duty Marine, we moved quite a bit and those items have been lost to time and geography.
I started collecting Batman merchandise as an adult about ten years ago without my current TV show focus and had a pretty nice collection going. Unfortunately I became disabled and was unable to work and my disability kicked in three and a half years later. All my collections (Batman, G.I. Joe, musical instruments, etc.) were all sold to keep the bills paid while Uncle Sam dragged his heels over giving me back the money I had paid into Social Security since I worked my first job in 1973. After my financial situation got back on an even keel, I started my current TV show collection in the summer of 2017.
Matthew: Batman has some very entertaining characters on the show. Who is your favorite villain and why?
Keith: That’s like asking which of my children is my favorite! Frank Gorshin’s [The] Riddler is great due to his manic “bouncing off the walls” performance. Cesar Romero’s Joker is a total delight due to his makeup/costume and dialog delivery. Julie Newmar’s Catwoman… What can I say about that that hasn’t been said already?
Matthew: With the loss of Adam West last year, all of us fans were left with a hole in our hearts. What are the most cherished pieces of your collection?
Keith: My copy of 1997’s Adam West Remembers Batman magazine which has a poster on the inside cover of West wearing the Batsuit for the very last time. Also, the ‘Adam West Tribute Wall’ I have here in my Batcave.