The Green Hornet and his sidekick Kato aided the dynamic duo against Colonel Gumm in the season two episodes; ‘A Piece of the Action’/’Batman’s Satisfaction’. The Green Hornet was played by Van Williams. Kato was played by Bruce Lee.
Behind the mask of the Green Hornet is Britt Reid, the publisher of ‘The Daily Sentinel’ newspaper and long time rival of Bruce Wayne. The only people who know the true identity of the Green Hornet are; the District Attorney, Casey Case and of corse Kato. Normal everyday citizens, the police force believe and even the dynamic duo believe that the Green Hornet & Kato are super criminal’s, but instead they fight crime and take on dangerous criminal gangs.
The Green Hornet arrive in Gotham City as they have uncovered an organised crime wave originating out of the ‘Pinkchip Stamp Factory’. Colonel Gumm is employed at Miss Pinkston’s legitimate stamp factory, where unbeknown to the owner, Gumm is printing off counterfeit stamps for profit.
One night Commissioner Gordon is alerted by Miss Pinkston, who noticed from her apartment window the Green Hornet’s infamous car ‘The Black Beauty’ parked outside her factory. The Commissioner mistaken’s the Green Hornet to be the villain in all this and Batman is called upon to investigate. Throughout the story it becomes apparent to Batman that he is fighting on the same side as the Green Hornet, so they begrudgingly help each other out to get to Colonel Gumm.
Before the fight scene in the second episode, where it’s choreographed that Robin has an altercation with Kato, Burt Ward writes in his autobiography ‘My Life in Tights’ that Bruce Lee played a trick on him before filming. He didn’t say a word to him all day, acted angrily towards Burt and starred him out whenever he could. Adam West and others filming on the day knew what Bruce Lee was doing and found it hilarious as Burt Ward had became terrified. After filming the scene Bruce laughs and lets Burt in on the joke. For many years after it had been rumoured that Bruce Lee wanted to kill Burt Ward, this was simply a crazy rumour and misinterpretation of what actually happened – a practical joke.
Another notable piece of trivia surrounding that fight is both Adam West and Van Williams made it clear that neither hero must appear to loose the battle, in an attempt not to dent the reputation of either hero.
The Green Hornet & Kato actually appeared earlier in the series in the season two episode; ‘The Spell of Tut’. As a bat-climb cameo appearance. Interestingly Batman gives them recognition as being crime-fighters, yet as mentioned above when they later appear everyone believes them to be criminals.
Also in the season two episode ‘The Impractical Joker’. Bruce, Dick and Alfred are all in the Wayne Manor study, where Bruce says; “It’s time to watch the Green Hornet” and you momentarily hear a snippet of the theme tune.
So you may ask why the crossover of heroes? Simple answer really, the executive producer of ‘Batman’, William Dozier, also produced the ‘Green Hornet’ television series which was broadcast between September 1966 until March 1967. Dozier attempted to use the mass popularity of ‘Batman’ to help promote the ‘Green Hornet’ series. You could argue however, this unfortunately did not transpire as planned due to the series being cancelled after only one season, which included 26 episodes.
The Green Hornet Television Series
Where the Batman television series was made ‘over the top’ as a kind of family friendly comedy series. The Green Hornet series was made to be the polar opposite, more adult orientated with more serious storylines. As with Batman, executive producer William Dozier reprises his role as ‘Desmond Doomsday’ to narrate the series.
The Green Hornet/Britt Reid was played by Van Williams, who is possibly best known for being Ken Madison in the ‘Surfside 6’ series. At one time he lived next door to Adam West, they both had always remained good friends since meeting – presumably on filming Batman.
Kato was played by the legendary Bruce Lee – although not legendary at the time. I say this because his appearance as Kato was to be his first in the U.S. This made the series one of the first to be showing martial arts on primetime television. Bruce Lee had to learn to slow down his martial arts when filming as he was literally moving too fast for the cameras or the film crew in fact to keep up with him. The directors of the series requested him to fight in an American style, but naturally as an asian martial art expert he declined – thankfully he did too as because of his appearance on the series, its given the series such a cult following. As we all know Bruce Lee went on to becoming one of Hollywoods finest. Shortly after the series was axed its been documented that Bruce Lee wrote a letter to William Dozier, expressing his thanks for opening the door to Hollywood for him.
The Green Hornet’s origins were not from a comic book like Batman but from the radio, between the 1930s and 1950s. It was subsequently featured as a comic book series before appearing as a television series.
I am just going to mention the other main characters who appeared in the Green Hornet television series who did not appear in Batman. On the right is the actor/actress, on the left the character name:
Casey Case – played by Wende Wagner (pictured)
Mike Axford – played by Lloyd Gough
Walter Brooke – played by District Attorney
Home Video Release
Unfortunately the series has not been released onto VHS or DVD. The reason being the rights to the series are entangled within legalities of who owns what. Much like what delayed the ‘Batman’ series to be released, thankfully it was in 2014, so fingers crossed something can be worked out for the Green Hornet.
As of 2020 the only way you can get some of the series onto DVD is actually in Europe (Region 2). As episodes of the series were compiled together to create a release of two films, in the light of Bruce Lee’s passing in 1973.
The Green Hornet (1974) – includes the following episodes;
- The Hunters & The Hunted
- Invasion From Outer Space (Both parts 1&2)
- The Preying Mantis
The Fury of the Dragon (1976) – includes the following episodes;
- Trouble for Prince Charming
- Bad Bet on a 495-Silent
- The Ray is for Killing
- Secret of the Sally Bell
Green Hornet Websites
Katoman – An online forum dedicated to the series.
Green Hornet Episode Guide – A guide to all 26 episodes