Alan Napier

Happy birthday to actor Alan Napier, born Jan. 7, 1903 in King’s Norton, Worcestershire, England. Many television viewers who grew up in the 1960s know of Alan Napier for one notable role, that of Alfred the butler on the Batman TV series (1966-68). AlanNapierBut as the title of Napier’s posthumously released autobiography declares, he was Not Just Batman’s Butler. After graduating from college, Napier studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was hired to perform with the Oxford Players, which he did for 10 years. In 1939, he emigrated to the United States, first working on stage and then moving to Hollywood, where he established himself as a capable character actor in film. From 1941 to 1960, Napier appeared in over 60 movies, including Cat People (1942) uncredited, Lassie Come Home (1943), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), Sinbad, the Sailor (1947), Joan of Arc (1948), The Great Caruso (1951), The Blue Veil (1951), and The Court Jester (1955). During this period, he also appeared in a fair number of classic noir films: Ministry of Fear (1944), Dark Waters (1944) uncredited, Hangover Square (1945), Three Strangers (1946), The Strange Woman (1946), Ivy (1947), Lured (1947), Criss Cross (1949), and Manhandled (1949). In the mid-1950s, Napier began transitioning to television, and in 1966 landed the role of Alfred the butler, which exposed him to a new generation of viewers and brought him worldwide recognition. After Batman was cancelled, Napier continued working in television, appearing in TV movies and series, up until his retirement in 1981. Napier died of natural causes in 1988 after suffering a stroke. He was 85.

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