Actress Yvonne Craig, a pioneer of female superheroes on the small screen, died on Monday after a two-year battle with breast cancer. She was 78.
Craig’s family said in a statement that the actress, best known for originating the role of Batgirl in the 1960s “Batman” TV series, died in her Pacific Palisades home surrounded by loved ones.
“She had been in chemo almost continuously for the past two plus years since being diagnosed and that had weakened her immune system as well as her body,” the statement said, per CNN. “This didn’t dampen her sense of humor or her spirit, she intended to fight and win this battle. In the end, her mind still wanted to fight but her body had given up.”
Craig’s acting career began in the late 1950s, appearing in films like “Gidget,” and TV shows including “Perry Mason” and “Schlitz Playhouse.”
In 1967, she first starred as Batgirl (a.k.a. librarian Barbara Gordon) in the third and final season of “Batman.” A ballet dancer, Craig said in an 1998 interview with Femme Fatales that she did all her own stunts for the show, while Adam West and Burt Ward, the actors who played Batman and Robin, relied on stunt doubles.
“I meet young women who say Batgirl was their role model,” Craig told the magazine. “They say it’s because it was the first time they ever felt girls could do the same things guys could do, and sometimes better. I think that’s lovely.”
In addition to her superhero role, Craig also guest starred in many popular TV series, including “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”
She also famously played Marta, the green Orion slave girl from the third season of “Star Trek” who wanted to kill Captain Kirk.
According to her family, Craig later worked as a real estate broker, and was involved with social work and philanthropic work, including supporting free mammograms for women who couldn’t afford them.
She is remembered by fans as being an “amazing artist” who was as “lovely” in person as she was on the screen. Many also remember her as being their first TV crush.
Craig is survived by her husband, Kenneth Aldrich.
Her family has requested that those wishing to send flowers or other gifts should instead make donations to The Angeles Clinic Foundation, a Santa Monica-based organization dedicated to treatment, research and advocacy related to cancer.
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