Yvonne Craig, best known for originating the role of Batgirl on the 1960s Batman TV series, has died. The actress and ballet dancer passed away Monday after a two-year battle with breast cancer. She was 78. Craig, who was born in 1937 in Illinois, began her career as the youngest member of The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, touring with the company for three years. According to her official obituary, she was “accidentally discovered” by John Ford’s son Patrick who cast her in The Young Land in 1959 with Patrick Wayne and Dennis Hopper.
Craig went on to several features, including It Happened At The World’s Fair and Kissin’ Cousins with Elvis Presley, before joining Batman as Batgirl and her alter ego, Barbara Gordon. The actress spoke of her role to CNN earlier this year, saying, “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].”
Along with guest spots on such series as The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis, The Six Million Dollar Man, Mod Squad, Love American Style, Emergency, and The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father, she also had a memorable appearance in 1969 Star Trek episode “Whom Gods Destroy.” In it, she played Marta, a green Orion Slave Girl who wanted to kill Captain Kirk.
More recently, Craig wrote a book of anecdotal memoirs, From Ballet To The Batcave And Beyond, and did voice-over work including the role of Grandma on the Olivia cartoon series for Nickelodeon.
Craig’s family has posted a note about her passing on her official website that expresses some of her final wishes. “Wish Number One is that her family, friends and fans would know how much she loved them and always treasured her time with them. Wish Number Two was that no one waste a moment of their time in mourning for her loss in sadness but instead 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.”