Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rant #540: Robin at 66

Now that the bikini turned 65 yesterday, another pop icon celebrates a birthday today.

Burt Ward turns 66.

I know that some younger people who stroll by here are probably asking, "Who is Burt Ward?", but for a generation of kids, Burt Ward is something of an icon.

As a young kid, the former Bert Gervis Jr. was billed as the world's youngest professional ice skater. As he grew older, he excelled at many sports, but at age 20, his life changed forever.

He was cast as Robin on the Batman TV series.

Sixty-six is a lucky number for Ward, who changed his name at the behest of the producers, who believed the name Gervis would be difficult for people to pronounce. In 1966, the show began its two and a half year run, and one of the great TV phenomenons began.

From 1966 through 1968, seemingly everything was Batman oriented. You could get Batman belts, wallets, utility belts, looseleaf binders ... you name it, and the comic book character/TV superstar was on it. It was as if the world went Bat-crazy, and evidently it did.

Ward actually played two parts: Robin and the amiable Dick Grayson, high school student, who was the ward of Bruce Wayne, the alter-ego of Batman, played up to the hilt by Adam West.

Both West and Ward embraced their roles, and they will forever be remembered as TV's Dynamic Duo. Some, including me, say that the two are the best of all the Batmans and Robins that have been on TV and in the movies.

They got the roles. Some of the others, well, I don't think they understood the roles at all.

After the run of the show, Ward continued to act, and has been seen in a number of films, including a few where his link to the Robin character was the main drawing point. He has appeared with West in a number of films, TV shows, and fan conventions. The two are inextricably linked.

Although it is doubtful if he could fit into his old Robin outfit anymore, Ward has taken on a new cause. He is an animal rights activist.

So happy birthday, Burt. You will forever be Robin to us baby boomers.


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