Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s after-credits has a surprise for Batman fans: audio of the 1966 Batphone Secret Number Contest with the actual voices of the late Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin). The Batphone Secret Number Contest was real and it’s the final ode to the 1960s in Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to the Hollywood of 50 years ago.
By the time Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s story takes place in February and August of 1969, the classic Batman TV series was already canceled. Batman 1966 (as it’s been dubbed) only ran 3 seasons from January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968. The show was a phenomenon when it first debuted; it made stars Adam West and Burt Ward household names and Batman permeated pop culture, igniting a wave of Batmania in the summer of 1966. The first two seasons of Batman aired twice a week, with the first half-hour episode ending with a cliffhanger (usually a death trap Batman and Robin would escape in the following episode). A-list stars also vied to be villains of the week such Cesar Romero as the Joker, Burgess Meredith and the Penguin, and Julie Newmar as the Catwoman. However, Batmania soon burned itself out and ratings plummeted. Two years later, Batman was canceled despite the addition of Yvonne Craig as BatgirlÂ in season 3 to spruce up ratings.
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But soon after Batman debuted in January 1966, local Los Angeles radio station 93 KHJ Boss Radio ran a promotion with the series. As Batman and Robin themselves announced, the lucky fan who could guess the secret 7 digits of the famous red Batphone that Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton) used to contact the Caped Crusaders would win some fabulous prizes: lunch with Batman and Robin at the 20th Century Fox lot, a ride to the Batcave in the Batmobile, and a brand newÂ 25-inch console color TV set. The Dynamic Duo read cluesÂ over the course of severalÂ days and submissions had to be sent by postcard only to the radio station.
The Batphone Secret Number Contest was like an early version of today’s Omaze contests. But in those days long before the Internet, thousands of entries were sent to KHJ Boss Radio and it took over a week untilÂ someoneÂ eventually guessed the winning Batphone number. The lucky fan who guessed the correct number and won the fabulous prizes was Fred Jones of Reseda, CA. The winning number (which should not be called since it’s a “Gotham City phone number”) was 530-7972. According to Fred, he and his roommate stayed up all night trying to guess the number and he sent 408 postcards as entry submissions. Fred’s dedication wasÂ presumablyÂ rewarded by getting to meet his heroes, Batman and Robin, and taking home a brand new color TV set.
The Batphone Secret Number Contest is actually the second reference to Batman 1966 in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The first is early in the film when Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) meets with his agent Martin Schwarz (Al Pacino). Schwarz advises Dalton on his recent career trajectory of guest-starring as the heavy on other TV series, which included The Green Hornet, a spinoff of Batman. Schwarz mocked Dalton possibly appearing opposite Batman and Robin next, mimicking the show’s infamous “Pow! Zoom!” sound effects.
However, by February 1969 when Dalton’s meeting with Schwarz took place, Batman had already been canceled for a year and a well-connected Hollywood agent like Martin Schwarz would have known that, so the moment, while amusing, is a bit off. Still,Â Quentin Tarantino including the audio of the Batphone Secret Number Contest in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is proof positive of his obvious affection for the Batman TV series, which is considered a camp classic today.
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Key Release Dates
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019) release date: Jul 26, 2019
once upon a time in hollywood
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