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Burt Ward

Burt Ward
Ward at a panel discussion.
Ward speaking at the 2014 Phoenix Comicon in June 2014
Born Bert John Gervis, Jr.
(1945-07-06) July 6, 1945
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1966–present
Spouse(s) Bonney Lindsey (1965–1967)
Kathy Kersh (1967–1969)
Mariana Torchia (1985–19??)
Tracy Posner (1990–present)
Children 2

Burt Ward (born July 6, 1945) is an American television actor and activist. He is best known for his portrayal of Robin in the television series Batman (1966–68) and its theatrical feature film.

Contents

  • Early life 1
  • Batman 2
  • Post-Batman career 3
  • Charity work 4
  • Personal life 5
  • Television 6
  • Filmography 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Ward was born Bert John Gervis, Jr., in Los Angeles, California. His father, Bert Sr., was the owner of a traveling ice show called "Rhapsody On Ice". At the age of two, Ward was listed in the magazine Strange as It Seems as the world's youngest professional ice skater. Growing up, he was an avid reader of comic books such as Superman and Superboy, and enjoyed the action-adventure show Adventures of Superman.[1] He acquired the nickname "Sparky" in youth, possibly from the sparks his skates used to kick up during his routines[2] or energetic nature.[3] He excelled in high school sport activities such as football, track, and wrestling; he was also a member of the chess club and earned a black belt in Taekwondo. After graduation, he enrolled in college, while working part-time for his father's real estate company.[1]

Batman

At the age of 19, Ward auditioned for the role of Robin. He and Adam West were up against Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell for the roles of Batman and Robin, respectively. Selected for the role of Robin, Ward thought people would find Gervis (the 'G' is soft, as in gentleman) hard to pronounce and adopted his mother's maiden name, Ward. He also changed the spelling of Bert to 'Burt' to add "punch".

Ward (left) as Robin

Unlike the series' lead, Adam West, Ward was required to do some dangerous stunt work. He was told this was because his costume revealed more of his face, making it impractical for all of his stunt scenes to be performed by a stuntman. Later, he also discovered that he was being paid the minimum wage allowed by the Screen Actors Guild, and his stunt double was paid per stunt, so having Ward perform his own stunts was a cost-saving strategy. He would see the emergency room dozens of times during his time as Robin.[4]

At the height of the series' popularity, Ward recorded several musical tracks under the production of Frank Zappa. The first two, "Boy Wonder, I Love You" (which Zappa wrote) and "Orange Colored Sky", were released as a single on November 14, 1966. Two other tracks from these sessions, "Teenage Bill of Rights" and "Autumn Love", remain unreleased.[5]

During the first months of shooting, Ward was paid $350 per week.[6] By the series' end, he was earning up to $600 a week. The series only lasted three seasons, for a total of 120 episodes; according to Ward in an interview, this was because of the high cost of production. It was still high in the ratings, but ABC was losing a great deal of money. Later, NBC offered to pick it up for a fourth season, but the offer was withdrawn after learning that the sets had been destroyed.[7] Adam West and Burt Ward reprised their TV roles of Batman and Robin in the 20th Century Fox film Batman: The Movie released on July 30, 1966.

Burt said of Adam West, his mentor and friend for more than four decades, "We were completely opposite. Adam has been in many shows, tremendous, terrific background, but very "Mr. Hollywood". He wanted his tea at 4 in the afternoon, and me, I'm just like this kid that [sic] doesn't care, having a great time. And I think that's one of the reasons that the public like them because Adam was very introspective and I'm just this exuberant kid." In 1969, a year after Batman's cancellation, West's mother died, bringing the two men closer together. They have been reunited many times at conventions and TV reunion specials. In turn, Ward also made three guest appearances with West on separate cartoons: one was a 2002 episode of The Simpsons, later in 2010 on an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, and in 2013 for one of the final episodes of Futurama.

Post-Batman career

After the end of Batman, Ward found himself hard-pressed to find other acting jobs. He re-emerged to act in more than 40 made-for-television films such as Virgin High.

Although reportedly wanted by the producer, Ward did not get the Dustin Hoffman part in The Graduate because he chose to renew his contract with the Batman TV show, and 20th Century Fox did not want to dilute his popularity and identification as Robin.

In 1985, DC Comics named Ward as one of the honorees in the company's 50th-anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great for his work on the Batman series.[8]

In June 1995, Ward wrote a tell-all autobiography called Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights (ISBN 0-9647048-0-3), which described his time playing Robin.

Ward appeared in numerous reunions with co-star Adam West. The most memorable included reprising their roles as the Dynamic Duo on a short-lived animated series called The New Adventures of Batman, as well as The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour and Tarzan and the Super 7. In addition, they reappeared as the Dynamic Duo for Legends of the Superheroes. West and Ward finally reunited in the 2003 television movie, Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt.

During a Pro Wrestling Unplugged angle with wrestler Johnny Kashmere, Ward "knighted" Kashmere as the "New Batman". Ward has appeared on the show several times, walking out to the theme music from the 1960s Batman.

In 2001, Ward established the now-closed Boy Wonder Visual Effects, Inc.

In 2012, Bluewater comics was going to do a four-issue comic miniseries in homage to Burt Ward playing Robin called Burt Ward, Boy Wonder, but it apparently was cancelled. It starred Burt Ward and his crime fighting rescue dogs Gentle and Giant fighting crime. Part of the first issue was released on Free Comic Book Day 2012.

Charity work

In 1994, Ward and his wife, People magazine, ASPCA Animal Watch,[10] Hard Copy, Inside Edition, and Entertainment Tonight.[11] Burt Ward was also seen in an episode of Animal Planet's Adoption Tales.

Personal life

Ward's first wife was Bonney Lindsey, daughter of conductor Mort Lindsey. Their daughter Lisa Ann Ward was born in 1966 and became a mother in 1991. Ward and Lindsey married in 1965[12] and divorced in 1967. He was briefly married to actress Kathy Kersh whom he met when she appeared as a guest on the Batman TV show and to model Mariana Torchia. Since 1989, Ward has been married to Tracy Posner.[13] Their daughter Melody Lane Ward was born on February 16, 1991.

Television

Filmography

  • Batman: The Movie - Robin / Dick Grayson (1966)
  • Scream, Evelyn, Scream! - Dune Buggy Driver (1970)
  • High School U.S.A. - TV Movie - Teacher (1984)
  • Fire in the Night - Paul (1986)
  • The Underachievers - Bowmont (1987)
  • Robot Ninja - Stanley Kane (1989)
  • Batman and Robin and the Other Super Heroes - Video documentary - Himself (Presenter) (1989)
  • Holy Batmania - Video documentary short - Himself / Robin (1989)
  • Smoothtalker - Lab Technician (1990)
  • Kill Crazy - Video - Michael (1990)
  • The Girl I Want - Dad (1990)
  • Cyber-C.H.I.C. - Harry Truman Hodgkins (1990)
  • Virgin High - Dick Murphy (1991)
  • Hot Under the Collar - The Pope (1992)
  • Beach Babes from Beyond - Mr. Bun (1993)
  • The Dwelling - Video - Crasmire (1993)
  • Reverse Heaven - Doctor (1994)
  • Karate Raider (1995)
  • Assault of the Party Nerds 2: The Heavy Petting Detective - Randolph (1995)
  • Alien Force - Video - Omnipresent Praxima (1996)
  • Moving Targets - O'Malley (1999)
  • Batman Featurette - Video documentary short - Himself (2001)
  • Pacino Is Missing - Guard (2002)
  • Starring Adam West - Documentary - Himself (2013)
  • Na Na Batman - Featurette - Himself (2014)
  • Batmania Born - Featurette - Himself (2014)
  • Star Quest - post-production - Wayne (2015)

References

  1. ^ a b Ward, Burt (1995). Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights.  
  2. ^ West, Adam; Jeff Rovin. Back to the Batcave. Berkley Trade (September 1, 1994). p. 257.  
  3. ^ http://www.burtwardlive.com/w_trivia.html
  4. ^ Ward, Burt (1995). Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights. p. 10.  
  5. ^ The Zappa Patio: Unreleased Records by Burt Ward.
  6. ^ Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, 2003.
  7. ^ Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast
  8. ^ Marx, Barry, Cavalieri, Joey and Hill, Thomas (w), Petruccio, Steven (a), Marx, Barry (ed). "Burt Ward Robin Swings into TV Stardom" Fifty Who Made DC Great: 35 (1985), DC Comics
  9. ^ Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions.
  10. ^ Canine Crusader.
  11. ^ Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoption: We're on TV!.
  12. ^ MacMinn, Aleene (1966-07-31). "He's truly a boy wonder".  
  13. ^ "Where are They Now? - Holy 'Tights'! Ward Tells All". Daily News of Los Angeles. 1995-07-06. p. L3. 

External links

Preceded by
Johnny Duncan
Actors to portray Robin
1966 - 1968
Succeeded by
Chris O'Donnell
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