|(Actor - Batman [Robin]) |
*Appearing SATURDAY & SUNDAY
|Bert John Gervis, Jr. is an actor best known for his work as Robin, the “Boy Wonder,” in the 1960s television series Batman. The show, which aired on ABC from 1966 to 1968, starred Ward as Robin with Adam West as the title character.|
Ward was born Bert John Gervis, Jr., in Los Angeles, California. 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 like Superman and Superboy, and enjoyed the action-adventure show Adventures of Superman. He acquired the nickname “Sparky” in youth, possibly from the sparks his skates used to kick up during his routines or energetic nature. 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.
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.”
Unlike the series’ lead, Adam West, Ward was required to do some dangerous stunt work, because his costume revealed more of his face, making it impractical for all of his stunt scenes to be performed by a stuntman. 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.
During the first months of shooting, Ward was paid $350 per week. By the series’ end, he was earning up to $600 a week. 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. Later, NBC offered to pick it up for a fourth season, but the offer was withdrawn after learning that the sets had been destroyed.
Adam West and Burt Ward recreated 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 4pm. 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.” 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 two guest-appearances with West on two separate cartoons: one was a 2002 episode of The Simpsons and eight years later in 2010, on an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.
After the end of Batman, Ward found himself hard-pressed to find other acting jobs. He re-emerged to act in more than 30 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.
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 Batman and Robin on a short-lived animated television series called The New Adventures of Batman, the theater show Legends of the Superheroes, and 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 multiple times, walking out to the theme music from the 1960s Batman.
In 2001, Ward began Boy Wonder Visual Effects, Inc. which has provided visual effects for various television series and films such as Bulletproof Monk.
In 1994, Ward and his wife, Tracy Posner Ward, founded a charitable organization called Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions, Inc., 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, Hard Copy, Inside Edition, and Entertainment Tonight. Burt Ward was also seen in an episode of Animal Planet’s Adoption Tales.