Heath Ledger's Academy Award Sunday night was truly a historic moment in film history (being the first actor in a comic book-inspired movie to be so honored). I can't add anything to what's already been written about him and the Oscar.
Instead, I want to remember the first actor to portray The Joker on film. Of course, that's Cesar Romero in the Batman TV series (1966-68) and movie (1966). Just think, for over 20 years his Joker was the only live action image of the character we had. For most people under the age of 50, that's the only role they know him for, even though he was in over 100 movies. I loved him as The Joker. He brought incredible energy to the part and seemed to relish playing such a wacked-out villain.
I've been thinking about how The Joker has changed on film- from Romero to Nicholson, and finally Ledger. If a person had the time and talent, he could write an incisive essay on the larger, societal meaning behind the evolving image of The Joker- from Romero's funny, camp version to Ledger's twisted sociopath.