False Face was a master of disguise who could mold his face into anyone else's--except his own.
Basil Karlo was a professional criminal who stole and ingested a chemical formula that, after he drank it, gave him the ability to mimic the appearance of anyone he wished. But he gained this ability at the dual cost both of losing his own identity and of forgetting how to look like himself. It is still not known what means he used to form his own criminal gang. Karlo subsequently became known as "False Face," wearing a plastic mask which was a casting of his original face — made before he forgot how to look like himself.
On one particularly daring scheme, False Face impersonated the escort of a visiting dignitary, stealing the fabled Mergenberg Crown in the process. Batman and Robin, the "Bat-Duo," investigated the theft, and discovered that a false crown had been left in place of the true one. Inside the false crown, they found a clue that led them to False Face's next crime.
Batman and Robin solved the clue, and realized that False Face would attempt to rob the Gotham City First National Bank. They squared off with him outside of the complex, but the criminal and his cronies managed to elude capture by way of their special, customized "Trick-Truck."
To facilitate his next series of crimes, False Face required a disguise that would grant him access to police headquarters. He kidnapped police Chief O'Hara and took his place at the station where he worked alongside Commissioner James Gordon. During this time, Batman and Robin managed to apprehend one of False Face's assistants, Blaze. They brought Blaze to police headquarters, where False Face, disguised as O'Hara, interrogated her. Blaze, aware of her boss's ruse, pretended to submit to the interrogation and revealed the location of False Face's hideout.
Batman and Robin raced to the hideout only to fall into a trap. False Face captured the Bat-Duo and secured them to a set of railroad tracks with super-strong adhesive. However, thanks to the assistance of their trusted butler Alfred Pennyworth, the heroes escaped and resumed their search for False Face.
They deduced that the villain's next scheme would involve a counterfeiting racket at the Gotham bank. Although they managed to get the drop on False Face, the criminal succeeded in eluding capture once again and led Batman and Robin on a chase all throughout the city. They eventually tracked him down to the deserted Bioscope Movie Studios where False Face attempted to escape by disguising himself as Commissioner Gordon, but Batman saw through the disguise when he noticed that the right-handed Commissioner was holding his handkerchief in his left hand, and was able to finally put a stop to his crime spree once and for all.
Since then, though there is no canonical evidence to support this, it can be presumed that Karlo has remained in prison and that he is undergoing treatment to find an antidote for the chemical formula he stole and drank, in hopes of restoring him to normal and, in so doing, restoring both his personal identity and his memory of how to look like himself.
Powers and Abilities
Lack of a personal identity of his own (see above)
- This version of the character is exclusive to the continuity of the television series Batman, its tie-in comic book series, the related live-action movie, and the animated movies Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. As he was developed for the series, he is an adaptation of False Face. The original character was created by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff and first appeared in Batman #113. When the TV character appeared in the comic book continuation of the series, Batman '66 Vol 1, his background was expanded to give him the real name of Basil Karlo, from the original Clayface, who was created by Bob Kane and first appeared in Detective Comics #40, and the powers of the second Clayface, who was also created by Finger and Meldoff and first appeared in Detective Comics #298.
Behind the Scenes
False Face was portrayed by Malachi Throne. During a contract disagreement, and because he was unhappy with the finished product, Throne requested that his name be withdrawn from the credits. The producers agreed, but pointed out that they reserved the right to use his name. For "True or False Face," a question mark appeared in the "Special Guest Villain" billing in the opening and closing credits where Throne's name should have been. For "Holy Rat Race," the question mark "Special Guest Villain" billing was retained for the opening credits, while Throne was eventually given the final billing on the closing credits.
Malachi Throne explained his dissatisfaction with the finished product by pointing out that though False Face was originally supposed to be done with make-up, a plastic mask was used instead due to production problems or decisions. But though False Face "was a good character," in Throne's words, the mask came out ugly and uncomical when photographed. He believed his work was good, but believed it would have been better had the original concept of different facial disguises been retained. Throne called the mask so bad that "it prevented the character from repeating because there was no response to the character." He concluded that when chief series producer William Dozier and operational producer Howie Horwitz signed him for the role "even though I was not on the same level" as many of the other higher-profile public figures who had begun to appear on the series, "That was like a coup, but they pulled the rug out from under me with that stupid mask."
Throne's actual face, only slightly obscured by make-up, is visible in "True or False Face" when the villain impersonates an armored truck guard. Instead of having a different actor play the part, which was the case with all other impersonations, Throne appeared without the plastic mask; it would not have made sense for Throne to have worn False Face's mask and the other actors apparently not being able to see it.
- False Face is left-handed.
- 8 Appearances of Basil Karlo (Batman 1966 TV Series)
- 4 Images featuring Basil Karlo (Batman 1966 TV Series)
- Quotations by or about Basil Karlo (Batman 1966 TV Series)
- Character Gallery: Basil Karlo (Batman 1966 TV Series)
- Batman '66 #23
- Alfred's surname was never actually used on the series, though the Batman '66 comic books confirmed it to be Pennyworth.
- The Official Batman Batbook, written by Joel Eisner, page 80.
- Malachi Throne mentioned this when interviewed by Joel Eisner for The Official Batman Batbook, his remarks comprising the "BatTalk" on page 81.
- Batman (1966 TV Series) Episode: Holy Rat Race
|Batman Villain(s) from the 1966 series |
This character, team or organization, was primarily an enemy of the Batman in either the 1966-1968 television show, related 1966 film, tie-in comic book series or the animated movies. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Batman (1966 TV Series) Villains category."