Early Batman Stars Discovered in Rare Amusement Park Card Set

1954 Pike Pier Long Beach Actors Arcade Card

Size: 3 3/8” x 5 ½”

Blank Back

Glossy photo print on heavy photo paper

Facsimile autograph

Number in set: 146

As a collector of vintage Batman related vintage cards, I recently uncovered two cards of actors from the franchise. First was Robert Lowery, the star of the 1949 serial playing the title role of Batman. The second card of interest is J. Carol Naish.  Before Heath Ledger, Danny DeVito, or Frank Gorshin, character actor J. Carrol Naish played Batman’s first onscreen archvillain.

The cards measure a standard size 3 3/8” x 5 ½” and are printed on heavy, glossy photo paper with a blank back. The actor’s facsimile signature appears in either black or white on each card. With a little bit of research and speaking to an online vendor that was selling the known inventory, these cards were determined to have been sold at the Pike Pier Long Beach Amusement Park.

The Pike, in Long Beach, CA since 1902, had its beginning as a beach and bath house resort. It was located at the end of the very fashionable red car electric line from Los Angeles. Crowds came from all parts of the country to enjoy the beautiful beaches and bath house and pool. This area gradually grew into a real old-fashioned amusement park with fun and games and thrill rides that fit every age group. As the years passed, the park kept pace with new and modern rides including a brand-new cyclone racer. But it still retained its old-fashioned air of the country carnival with fun for all, and no admission fee.

Imagine going to Disneyland at the beach, and it’s free to get in and has no lines.  The Pike was like that and much more in its time. When the silent film industry started in the 1900’s, The Pike built eight theaters to show the films.  When ballroom dancing became popular, The Pike had many ballrooms from which to choose.   Whether it was your childhood memory or your first date, those lucky enough to have visited it will always remember The Pike.

I have interviewed the original seller who controlled the entire known inventory and confirms this is the complete list of stars that he discovered in the find. He also verified that this was the remaining inventory from the Pike Pier Long Beach Amusement Park and was adamant of the cards origin. I have been tracking this set for nearly three years and have found zero cards being offered by any other seller. Therefore, I am confident that the origin can be attributed to Pike Pier and the inventory was controlled by a single person. To further document the set, a photographic archive was created of each card. Being so close to Hollywood, it makes sense that movie related subjects would be highly collected by the parks visitors. Amusement parks were known to have arcade machines which dispensed arcade, fortune, and weight cards. 1954 The Pike is listed as one of the five largest amusement zones in the country, with 218 concessions. Due to the size, organization, and commerce associated with this venue, it makes sense that the park would produce its own line of cards and not use more costly alternates offered by more mainstream and established vendors.

To determine the date of 1954 circa, I reached out to non sport card expert Troy Kirk. He replied,

“There is only one card featuring two performers, the card of Bill Elliott and Virginia Grey. Those two were in one film together, “The Forty-Niners,” which was released in May of 1954. This set was probably issued in 1954 or 1955.” For the checklist on his website, www.moviecards.com , Troy dated the set to 1954.

Although not issued in costume and there is no mention of the Batman movie, this set is very important to the history of  the Batman/Super Hero genre as it contains Lowery, the 2nd on screen Batman, and Naish, the 1st on screen villain.

Checklist (146)

John Agar

Robert Alda

Ben Alexander

Keith Andres

Eddie Arnold

Robert Arthur

Roy Barcroft

Jess Barker

Lex Barker

Freddie Bartholomew

John Barrymore

Lionel Barrymore

Richard Basehart

Scotty Beckett

Noah Beery Jr.

Tom Bennett

Lyle Bettger

William Bishop

Bobby Blake

Ben Blue

Lee Bowman

Charles Boyer

Eddie Bracken

Keefe Brasselle

David Brian

Rand Brooks

John Brown

Richard Burton

Rod Cameron

William Campbell

Larry Carr

Jack Carson

Gower Champion

William Ching

Lee Cobb

Tom Conway

Ben Cooper

Wendell Corey

Joseph Cotton

Jerome Courtland

James Craig

Alan Curtis

Helmet Dantine

Dan De Fore

Richard Denning

Al Dexter

Arturo de Cordova

John Derek

John Ericson

Tom Drake

Dave Duryea

Richard Egan

William Eythe

Jose Ferrer

Mel Ferrer

Peter Finch

Eddie Fisher

Scott Forbes

Doug Fowley

John Forsythe

Arthur Franz

Leo Genn

Race Gentry

Arthur Godfrey

Stewart Granger

Kirby Grant

Gary Gray

Richard Greene

Lloyd Gough

Ron Hagerthy

Monte Hale

Louis Hayword

Rex Harrison

Richard Hart

Van Heflin

Paul Heinreid

Dan O’ Herlihy

Craig Hill

Earl Holliman

Tim Holt

Skippy Homeier

John Hudson

Ross Hunter

John Ireland

Claude Jarman Jr.

Louis Jourdin

Allan Jones

Dick Jones

Johnny Johnston

Paul Kelly

Keith Larson

Maurice Lawrence

Sam Levene

Howard Keel

Patrick Knowles

Mickey Knox

Al “Lash” LaRue

Robert Lowery

Gordon MacRae

Eddie Mayehoff

Dewey Martin

Lon McAllister

Charles McGraw

Ralph Meeker

Lauritz Melchoir

Cameron Mitchell

Vaughn Monroe

Tom Morton

Henry Morgan

George Murphy

J Carroll Naish

Alex Nicole

Bob Nolan

Dennis O’ Keffe

Larry Parks

Robert Preston

William Prince

Anthony Quinn

Ron Randell

Phil Regan

Michael Rennie

Jeff Richards

Bob Shannon

Jack Sernas

Michael Shea

Charles Starrett

Robert Sterling

Paul Stewart

Robert Strauss

Barry Sullivan

Don Taylor

Richard  Todd

Carlos Thompson

Marshall Thompson

Bobby Van

Clint Walker

Joey Walsh

David Wayne

Clifton Webb

Jack Webb

Richard Widmark

George Winslow

Billy Williams

Alan Young

Gig Young

Bill Elliott/Virginia Grey