In this absolutely fantastic day and age when the internet makes nearly everything known. It is indeed a joy to be able to stumble upon little nuggets of pop culture goodness you haven’t seen before. Case in point this 1967 public service announcement. On the subject of road safety and presented by none other than the Caped Crusader. Yes, indeed, the one and only Adam West in Kerb Drill!
I have to admit that I am digging that Batcamera the Caped Crusader is sporting.
At the time of Kerb Drill’s release, the TV series had probably just finished it’s second season. I suppose the World was still riding high on the Bat-mania from after the ’66 series became so immensely popular. As well as Batman: The Movie having been released in the UK in December of 1966. It is no wonder that they recruited Adam West to speak to the kids about road safety. This public service announcement is similar to the Green Cross Code PSA’s that David Prowse would do in 1975.
Within the brief minute long PSA, Batman kindly explains that has taken a quick holiday from Gotham City. To not only visit London of course but crime fighting as well. Although the Caped Crusader wants children to know that there is one danger they can never ignore. That deadly daily danger of so much vehicular traffic! Obviously Batman explains the importance of the Kerb Drill, demonstrating it with the help of some young fans.
Not only is the UK PSA rather charming and delightful, it was also considered to be lost. It was in fact uncovered by the Birmingham based Kaleidoscope organization. A group dedicated to tracking down lost UK television rarities such as this public service announcement. Which they believe has never been seen by the World until it was presented last month.
Ready to travel back to 1967 with Batman and learn all about the Kerb Drill?
In my youth there were a handful of comic book characters that I liked the most. Batman, The Creature Commandos, Captain America, as well as Captain Carrot. However when it came to heroes on television, it was a whole other matter. Especially on Saturday mornings when the The Shazam!/Isis Hour was playing on CBS. Although every episode of the show would end with a moral of the story, I didn’t know of a Shazam PSA!
As most of you know, Shazam is the magical word that young Billy Batson must utter to transform. With a blast of lightning from the Heavens, he becomes the mighty Captain Marvel. Of course being Filmation, even with it being a live action series, they had to slip in some animation. For example when Billy seeks counsel from the Elders who chose him to be Captain Marvel. Although not featured in this particular clip, Hercules is voiced by none other than Batman‘s Adam West.
The Shazam! TV series lasted for 3 seasons, with a total of 28 episodes. Throughout the show, Billy Batson was played by Michael Gray, with the elderly Mentor being portrayed by Les Treymane.
Captain Marvel however was played by two different actors during the series. The first actor was Jackson Bostwick. I have found some reports that he was fired after two episodes of the second season. The reason being he hadn’t shown up to the set, which indeed might have had a little to do with him having his face and eye examined. A stunt on the show, which Bostwick performed himself, didn’t go as planned. The Producers thought he was holding out for a bigger paycheck. In the end, Bostwick was replaced but won a court case against Filmation who had to pay him his contract fee.
It was John Davey that took over the role in Shazam! after Bostwick was let go. This included the episodes where Isis (JoAnna Cameron) and Captain Marvel crossed over into each other’s TV shows. This occurred a total of six times, with three crossovers for each series.
The 1980s were a glorious time of cartoons that didn’t need to have any sort of educational value. And when they tried to do so, it was always through thinly-veiled Public Service Announcements thrown in to fill a cartoon’s running time at the end of the show. There may have been five minutes left going into that commercial break, but the story was wrapped up, and it was time to teach the young ones a “lesson.”
With the advent of the Children’s Television Act of 1990, this method of education became a relic of the decade we had just come out of, but for those of us who grew up during that time, it was awesome. We will forever cherish the time when “educational” involved He-Man and She-Ra discussing Bad Touch, a member of GI Joe taught me about proper skin care in the sun (and how not to fall off a cliff), and when we didn’t care what the Transformers had to teach us…we were just fascinated that they COULD teach us something.
And kids today are so much smarter than we ever were. Can’t find the correlation, can you?
Do you remember the scene in Superman: The Movie where Lois Lane is interviewing Superman and Supes gives Lois a quick lung cancer check? I love that scene, and I’ve often wondered if it helped influence anyone to stop them smoking. Having the Man of Steel confirm the smoking/cancer link must surely have given some people a reason to think about quitting.
I recently discovered that in 1979 America’s Health Education Council used Superman to convey a similar message. “With my amazing X-Ray vision I can see the HARM cigarettes do inside people’s bodies. That’s why I don’t SMOKE!”. I couldn’t have said it better.
The same education council used Nick O’Teen as a bad guy with bad breath and stinky clothes who smokes so much he puffs and pants like a broken down steam engine!
I also found that the American Lung Association has Supes tackling asthma with their 1982 Super Stuff PSA:
You might think that Superman should be trusted in these matters, but this comic image sends a very different message:
Just remember folks, crush the evil Nick O’Teen, hijacker of health, foe of the fit, NEVER SAY YES TO A CIGARETTE!