Burt Ward

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Burt Ward
Ward at a panel discussion.
Ward speaking at the Phoenix Comicon in June 2014
Born
Bert John Gervis Jr.

(1945-07-06) July 6, 1945 (age 75)
OccupationActor, activist
Years active1965–present
Spouse(s)
  • Bonney Lindsey
    (m. 1965; div. 1967)
  • Kathy Kersh
    (m. 1967; div. 1969)
  • Mariana Torchia
    (m. 1985; div. 1989)
  • (m. 1990)
Children2
AwardsInkpot Award (2014)[1]

Burt Ward (born Bert John Gervis Jr. /ˈɜːrvɪs/, July 6, 1945) is an American actor and activist. He is best known for his portrayal of Robin, the sidekick of Batman (played by Adam West), in the television series Batman (1966–1968), its theatrical feature film, the Saturday morning animated series The New Adventures of Batman (1977), the two-episode pilot Legends of the Superheroes (1979), the animated reunion films Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016) and Batman vs. Two-Face (2017), and the live-action television event Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019). Ward is one the last surviving original actors of the 1960s TV series Batman.

Early life[edit]

Ward was born Bert John Gervis Jr., on July 6, 1945, in Los Angeles, California. His father, Bert Sr., was the owner of a traveling ice show called "Rhapsody On Ice". At age 2, Ward was listed in the magazine Strange as It Seems as a professional ice skater.[2] Growing up, he was an avid reader of comic books such as Superman and Superboy, and enjoyed the action-adventure show Adventures of Superman.[3] He acquired the nickname "Sparky" in his youth, possibly from the sparks his skates kicked up during his routines[4] or his energetic nature.[5] He excelled in high school sport activities such as football, track, and wrestling; he was also a member of the chess club and is a practitioner of Taekwondo.[6] After graduation, he enrolled in college, while working part-time for his father's real estate company.[3]

Batman[edit]

At the age of 19, Ward auditioned for the role of Robin. West and Ward 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 perform 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 stunt double. 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.[7]

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.[8]

During the first months of shooting, Ward was paid $350 per week.[9] 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.[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.[10] 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.

In 1969, a year after Batman's cancellation, West's mother died, bringing the two men closer together. They were 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. Ward remained friends with West until his death on June 9, 2017, at age 88.[11]

Ward is the last surviving main cast member of Batman. Julie Newmar and Lee Meriwether are the last surviving guest cast members of Batman.

Post-Batman career[edit]

After the end of Batman, Ward, like Adam West, 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.

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.[12]

In June 1995, Ward wrote a tell-all autobiography called Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights, 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 planning to issue a four-issue comic miniseries in homage to Burt Ward playing Robin, called Burt Ward, Boy Wonder, but it was apparently canceled. It starred Burt Ward and his crimefighting rescue dogs Gentle and Giant fighting crime. Part of the first issue was released on Free Comic Book Day 2012.

Beginning in late 2017, Ward is seen promoting the Batman television series and other classic television series on the MeTV television network.

On January 9, 2020, Ward received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[13]

Charity work[edit]

In 1994, Ward and his wife, Tracy Posner Ward, founded a charitable organization called Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions, Inc.,[14] which rescues giant-breed dogs such as Great Danes and some smaller-breed dogs. Their work with the organization has been featured in such outlets as People magazine, ASPCA Animal Watch,[15] Hard Copy, Inside Edition, and Entertainment Tonight.[16] 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. Ward and Lindsey married on July 19, 1965[17] and divorced in 1967. They had one daughter, Lisa Ann Ward, in 1966. 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 1990, Ward has been married to Tracy Posner.[18] Their daughter, Melody Lane Ward, was born on February 16, 1991.

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1966 Batman Dick Grayson / Robin
1970 Scream, Evelyn, Scream! Dune Buggy Driver
1984 High School U.S.A. Teacher TV Movie
1986 Fire in the Night Paul
1987 The Underachievers Bowmont
1989 Robot Ninja Stanley Kane
Batman and Robin and the Other Super Heroes Himself (Presenter) Video documentary
Holy Batmania Himself / Robin Video documentary short
1990 Smoothtalker Lab Technician Produced by Eduardo Montes-Bradley, directed by Tom Milo
Kill Crazy Michael Video
The Girl I Want Dad
Cyber-C.H.I.C. Harry Truman Hodgkins
1991 Virgin High Dick Murphy
1992 Hot Under the Collar The Pope
1993 Beach Babes from Beyond Mr. Bun
The Dwelling Crasmire Video
1994 Reverse Heaven Doctor
1995 Karate Raider
Assault of the Party Nerds 2: The Heavy Petting Detective Randolph
1996 Alien Force Omnipresent Praxima Video
1999 Moving Targets O'Malley
2001 Batman Featurette Himself Video documentary short
2002 Pacino Is Missing Guard
2003 Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt Himself TV Movie
2013 Starring Adam West Documentary
2014 Na Na Batman Featurette
Batmania Born Featurette
2015 Star Quest Wayne
2016 Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Robin/Dick Grayson
2017 Batman vs. Two-Face

Television[edit]

Date Title Role Notes
1966–1968 Batman Robin / Dick Grayson 120 episodes
1967 Batgirl Studio Short
The Hollywood Squares Himself 5 episodes
1977 The New Adventures of Batman Robin / Dick Grayson 16 episodes
1979 Legends of the Superheroes Robin Specials: "The Challenge", "The Roast"
1983 Family Feud Himself Episodes: "Batman vs. Lost in Space" & "Gilligan's Island vs. Batman"
1995 Living Single Episode: "Mommy Not Dearest"
1997 Homeboys in Outer Space Gerbil Episode: "The Adventures of Ratman and Gerbil or, Holy Homeboys in Outer Space"
2000, 2003 & 2004 Biography Himself Episodes: "Adam West: Behind the Cowl", "Batman: Holy Batmania!" & "Catwoman: Her Many Lives"
2002 The Simpsons Robin (voice) Episode: "Large Marge"
Hollywood Squares Himself 5 episodes
2006 TV Land's Top Ten TV Series documentary – "Top 10 TV Dynamic Duos"
The 4th Annual TV Land Awards TV Special
2008 Guiding Light 1 episode
2010 SpongeBob SquarePants Young Barnacle Boy (voice) Episode: "Back to the Past/The Bad Guy Club for Villains"
2011 Hollywood Treasure Himself Episode: "Holy Gobstopper, Batman!"
2013 Futurama Episode: "Leela and the Genestalk"
2015 Robot Chicken Episode: "Robot Chicken DC Comics Special III: Magical Friendship"
2019 Supergirl Dick Grayson (Earth-66) Episode: "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Inkpot Award
  2. ^ Marc, Myers (October 16, 2018). "How Real Estate Helped Burt Ward Become Batman's Robin". Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b Ward, Burt (1995). Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights. ISBN 0-9647048-0-3.
  4. ^ West, Adam; Jeff Rovin. Back to the Batcave. Berkley Trade (September 1, 1994). p. 257. ISBN 0-425-14370-8.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2010-09-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Inc, Active Interest Media (1 November 1968). "Black Belt". Active Interest Media, Inc. Retrieved 4 January 2018 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Ward, Burt (1995). Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights. p. 10. ISBN 0-9647048-0-3.
  8. ^ The Zappa Patio: Unreleased Records by Burt Ward.
  9. ^ Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, 2003.
  10. ^ "Adam West" – via soundcloud.com.
  11. ^ FoxNews.com (June 22, 2017). "'Batman's' Burt Ward believes Adam West 'had no idea' he was going to die: He was making plans for the future". Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ Huver, Scott (January 9, 2020). "Holy Hollywood Star, Batman: Burt Ward Talks Road to Walk of Fame Honor". Variety. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  14. ^ "Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions". gentlegiantsrescue.com.
  15. ^ "Canine Crusader". gentlegiantsrescue.com.
  16. ^ "Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoption: We're on TV!". gentlegiantsrescue.com.
  17. ^ MacMinn, Aleene (1966-07-31). "He's truly a boy wonder". Los Angeles Times. p. A4.
  18. ^ "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