On this day, June 23, 1989, Michael Keaton starred in the film as the multimillionaire Bruce Wayne, who has transformed himself into the crime-fighting Batman after witnessing his parents’ brutal murder as a child. Jack Nicholson plays mob henchman Jack Napier (AKA the Joker).
Controversy had surrounded the casting of Keaton (best known for comedies like 1983’s Mr. Mom) as Batman. An entire roster of prominent leading men–reportedly including Mel Gibson, Dennis Quaid, Harrison Ford and Kevin Costner–were considered for the role, and Burton reportedly wanted to cast an unknown actor (a la Christopher Reeve in Superman). Having worked previously with Keaton in Beetlejuice (1988), Burton liked the idea of collaborating with him again, and the producers agreed, after screening Keaton’s 1988 film Clean and Sober, that Keaton had talent as a “serious” actor as well.
In a new marketing strategy that would become a trend for movies featuring super heroes, Warner Brothers hyped Batman as a major summer “event” long before its release. Reviews for the film were mixed, though most critics praised Nicholson’s scene-stealing performance as the Joker. For his creation of the movie’s impressive Batmobile and the dark, cavernous Gotham City, Batman’s production designer, Anton Furst, won an Oscar for Best Art Direction – Set Decoration.
1927 – Bob (Robert Louis) Fosse (Oscar Award-winning director: Cabaret ; Tony Award-winning choreographer: Big Deal , Dancin’ , Sweet Charity , Little Me , Bob Fosse , Damn Yankees , The Pajama Game ; director/choreographer: Pippin ; Emmy Award-winning director: Singer Presents Liza with a ‘Z’ [1972-73]; autobiographical film: All That Jazz; died Sep 23, 1987)
1947 – Bryan Brown (actor: Breaker Morant, Full Body Massage, Blame It on the Bellboy, F/X series, Dead in the Water, Gorillas in the Mist, Cocktail, A Town like Alice, The Thorn Birds, The Winter of Our Dreams, Palm Beach, The Irishman)
1957 – Frances McDormand (actress: Fargo, Blood Simple, Mississippi Burning, The Wonder Boys, Almost Famous)
1959 – Duane Whitaker (actor: Pulp Fiction, Hobgoblins, Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter, Tales from the Hood, Within the Rock, Spoiler, Tempest Eye)
1962 – Billy Wirth (actor: The Lost Boys, Body Snatchers, Venus Rising, Space Marines, Relax… It’s Just Sex; producer: MacArthur Park)
1972 – Selma Blair (actress: In & Out, Cruel Intentions, Kill Me Later, The Sweetest Thing)