Known for: George Barris is a renowned custom car designer who created such famous Hollywood vehicles as the Munster Koach and the Batmobile.
Background: An Illinois native, Barris was raised in Roseville and graduated from San Juan High School in 1943. George and his older brother, Sam, learned about cars and customizing at area auto shops. George created his first custom car from a used 1936 Ford convertible before graduating from high school. The brothers opened a custom car shop in Los Angeles after World War II. Sam specialized in metal craftsmanship while George mainly worked on designing, painting, managing and promoting. Movie studios took notice, which led to George designing cars for films, TV shows and stars, including the Batmobile for the mid-'60s "Batman" TV show. He took a 1955 Lincoln-Mercury Futura concept and transformed it into a 5,500-pound black icon.
A highlight: George Barris and his creations make numerous appearances at auto shows, including the annual Sacramento Autorama. At that show, the coveted Sam Barris Award is given to the car featuring the best metal work, paint and finish.
In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.