The Nerd Who Was Batman

Meet Olan Soule, the stereotypical geek who was the voice of Batman for a generation.

As all eyes look to see who will be the EIGHTH screen version of Batman in Batman vs Superman, let's take a moment to remember one of the unsung Batmen who went before: Olan Soule, who gave the character his voice on cartoons for a decade. Soule voiced both Batman and Alfred Pennyworth between 1968 and 1979 on shows like The Batman/Superman Hour, The Adventures of BatmanThe New Scooby-Doo Movies and various Super Friends incarnations (Super FriendsAll-New Super Friends HourChallenge of the Super Friends and World's Greatest Super Friends). He was the Caped Crusader until Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show, when Adam West reclaimed the mantle.

Soule couldn't look less like Batman. The prototypical pencil-necked geek, Soule was a character actor who specialized in the meek - the choir director and hotel manager on The Andy Griffith Show - to the nerdy - the lab guy in Dragnet and scientist Aristotle 'Tut' Jones on Captain Midnight - but his voice was surprisingly rich and deep. He had a long career in radio, playing the sort of leading man parts he couldn't get in real life with his 135 pound scrawny frame and owlish eyes. In fact when Captain Midnight was on the radio Soule played Agent Kelly. who often went on exciting adventures with Captain Midnight and his Secret Squadron, but when the show came to TV he found himself staying back at base as 'Tut' Jones, doing all sorts of science for the team. And, on occasion, selling Ovaltine:

Soule is one of the great 'hey, it's that guy' actors of 1950s, 60s and 70s TV, popping up in everything from I Love Lucy to The Twilight Zone to Fantasy Island. But it was his time as Batman, lending the Caped Crusader a mellifluous, paternal tone that perfectly offset Casey Kasem's high energy Robin, the Boy Wonder, that will stick with an entire generation the most. Adam West was our live action Batman, but Olan Soule - a nerd in thick glasses, just like us (although we never knew it) - was our animated Batman. 

By the way, here's Soule's best moment as Batman: