Burt Ward

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For other people named Herbert Ward, see Herbert Ward (disambiguation).
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 (age 69)
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.

Early life[edit]

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.[citation needed] Growing up, he was an avid reader of comic books like 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.[citation needed] After graduation, he enrolled in college, while working part-time for his father's real estate company.[4]

Batman[edit]

At the age of 19, Ward auditioned for the part 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 as Robin

Unlike the series' lead, Adam West, Ward was required to do some dangerous stunt work. He was told that 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.[5] According to a 2000 A&E Biography interview of his series' co-star, the "Dynamic Duo" had a lot of fun, both on and off the set.

At the height of Batman's popularity, Ward recorded a series of 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", remained unreleased.[6]

During the first months of shooting, Ward was paid $350 per week.[7] By the series' end, he was earning up to $600 a week.[citation needed] The series only lasted two and a half 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.[citation needed] Later, NBC offered to pick it up for a fourth season, but the offer was withdrawn after learning that the sets had been destroyed.[citation needed]

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 does not 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."[citation needed] In 1969, a year after Batman's cancellation, West's mother Audrey 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 three separate cartoons: one was a 2002 episode of The Simpsons, eight years later in 2010 on an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, and in 2013 for one of the final episodes of Futurama.

Post-Batman career[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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 Boy Wonder Visual Effects, Inc. which has provided visual effects for various television series and films such as Bulletproof Monk.

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 appears it 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[edit]

In 1994, Ward and his wife, Tracy Posner Ward, founded a charitable organization called Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions, Inc.,[9] which rescues giant breed dogs like Great Danes and some smaller breed dogs. Their work with the organization has been featured in such outlets as 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[edit]

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 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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ward, Burt (1995). Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights. ISBN 0-9647048-0-3. 
  2. ^ West, Adam; Jeff Rovin. Back to the Batcave. Berkley Trade (September 1, 1994). p. 257. ISBN 0-425-14370-8. 
  3. ^ http://www.burtwardlive.com/w_trivia.html
  4. ^ Ward, Burt (1995). Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights. ISBN 0-9647048-0-3. 
  5. ^ Ward, Burt (1995). Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights. p. 10. ISBN 0-9647048-0-3. 
  6. ^ The Zappa Patio: Unreleased Records by Burt Ward.
  7. ^ Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, 2003.
  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". Los Angeles Times. p. A4. 
  13. ^ "Where are They Now? - Holy 'Tights'! Ward Tells All". Daily News of Los Angeles. 1995-07-06. p. L3. 

External links[edit]

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