Greek American George Barris, the man who created television’s original Batmobile, along with many other well-known customized cars, passed away at age 89.
Barris passed away at his Los Angeles home with his family by his side, said Edward Lozzi, his longtime publicist and friend. No cause of death was given.
Barris became an important part of California’s car culture customizing imaginative vehicles for television shows, films and celebrities. “He was the man who started the American pastime for Baby Boomers,” Lozzi said.
Born George Salapatas on November 20, 1925 in Chicago, son of immigrant from Chios James Salapatas and Fanicia Barakaris, George was sent with his brother Sam to live with an uncle and his wife in Roseville, California after the death of their mother.
The two brothers started customizing cars for fun and their designs became so popular that they started doing it professionally. They started the Kustoms Car Club while still in high school and George moved to Los Angeles after turning 18. His brother joined him when discharged from the army after WWII. They started designing cars for private customers. Sam Barris left the business in the 1950s.
George Barris worked out of a shop close to Universal Studios. Other than the famous Batmobile, he designed The Munster Koach for the 1960s TV show The Munsters, and Black Beauty, the car Bruce Lee used in the TV show, The Green Hornet, and the General Lee for The Dukes of Hazzard TV series. He also designed cars for The Bugaloos and Knight Rider. His individual customers came to include Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Burt Reynolds, and Sylvester Stallone among others.
His son Brett Barris co-wrote the book “King of the Kustomizers: The Art of George Barris” that was published in September. George and his son took part in a book signing suitably at a Los Angeles car dealership.