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Zelda the Great / A Death Worse Than Fate

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Anne Baxter as Zelda the Great in "A Death Worse than Fate" - Batman season 1
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Zelda the Great / A Death Worse Than FateBatman season 1

In Zelda the Great / A Death Worse Than Fate, every year a mysterious person robs a bank every year for $100,000. But why? How is that related to a female magician/escape artist, and her latest death trap?

Zelda the great – February 8 1966

The Dynamic Duo arranges a trap for an elusive annual bank robber, but the female magician they are hunting is on to them with a new scheme of her own.

Zelda: I hate robbing banks! All I ever wanted to be was a poor but honest magician!

A Death Worse Than Fate – February 9 1966

Anne Baxter as Zelda the Great in "A Death Worse than Fate" - Batman season 1

Told that her loot is genuine money after all, Zelda is forced to lure Batman and Robin into a possibly unsolvable deathtrap, with hitmen waiting outside to shoot them if they escape.

Although this was Anne Baxter‘s last appearance as Zelda, she would later return to play a complete different character – Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. 

Zelda: [on phone, using a scarf to muffle her voice] This line better not be traced, my friends, or it’ll be very sad for Mrs. Harriet Cooper.
Robin: [on television, as per Zelda’s instructions] How is she?
Zelda: [glances up at Aunt Harriet] Oh, quite well, Boy Wonder. At least as well as one can be in a straitjacket over a fatal pool of flaming oil.
Bruce Wayne: You devil! How could a woman stoop to such a trick?

The ending is actually sweet. The villainous Eivol Ekdal and the mob hitmen have been sent to prison, as has Zelda. But, the Wayne Foundation is helping her perform for needy children, fulfilling her heart’s desire to simply be an entertaining magician.

Cast of characters


  • Based on Sheldon Moldoff’s story “Batman’s Inescapable Doom-Trap”, a 1965 Batman story appearing in Detective Comics issue 346. The story featured not Zelda, but a male magician/escape artist named Carnado. The change was made because producer William Dozier told screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. to “work in dames whenever possible”. 
  • According to Commissioner Gordon, the bandit has struck for the past three years, on April 1st, All Fool’s Day. 
  • This is one of a very few episodes where there is no batfight. 

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