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TV's Forgotten Joker—Ted Knight?

Ed Asner, Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore and Ted Knight
Ed Asner, Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore and Ted Knight
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There have been many actors who have brought Batman's arch-villain, The Joker, to life. The first actor to play the Clown Prince of Crime was Cesar Romero, on the hit '60's television show, Batman. On the big screen Jack Nicholson and of course Heath Ledger, wore the smile. Yet there were other actors who gave voice to The Joker for the villain's animated outings.

The most well known voice for The Joker is, of course, Mark Hamill, who is best known for playing Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy. However, there was an actor who voiced the character way back in the sixties, for Filmation's first foray into the world of Gotham City, The Adventures of Batman (originally aired as The Batman/Superman Hour, from 1968-1969). That actor was Ted Knight.

Knight is best known for portraying bumbling anchorman, Ted Baxter on the hit comedy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and later as the cantankerous cartoonist, Henry Rush in his own comedy series, Too Close for Comfort. He also played Judge Smails in the hit movie comedy, Caddyshack. Yet before he made it big in front of the camera, Knight was an accomplished voice over actor, working for Filmation and Hanna-Barbera studios.

Sadly Knight has been replaced in history by actor/comedian Larry Storch (best remembered for his role as Corporal Agarn on F-Troop), as the voice of the Joker— a misidentification that has been going on for decades, and persists to this day, in many books and articles. Luckily the 1960's Filmation cartoon series is now out on DVD, and Knight can finally reclaim credit where credit is due, for his work on the series.

Don't believe me. Well you don't have to take my word for it, just pause the end credits and you'll see for yourself. There as plain as day, Olan Soule as Batman, Casey Kasem as Robin, Jane Webb as Batgirl (and other female voices), and Ted Knight, who voiced not only The Joker, but also The Penguin, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Commissioner Gordon (and many other male voices in the series) and of course narrated the show. Larry Storch's name doesn't appear anywhere in the end credits.

Knight also voiced The Joker and The Penguin in Hanna-Barbera's New Scooby-Doo Movies, along with Filmation alums, Soule and Kasem reprising their roles as the Caped Crusaders (again, pause the credits and you'll see that Storch's name is nowhere to be found).

If you love the Batman of the '60's, pick up a copy of the newly released Adventures of Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder on DVD. Filmation's animation is far superior to Hanna-Barbera's Super Friends series, and much more faithful to the silver age Batman and Robin and their rouges gallery.

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