‘Batman’ sidekick Burt Ward recalls groupie encounters with Adam West, meeting ‘Catwoman’ Julie Newmar
It turns out there was plenty of action going on in the Batcave — and it had nothing to do with crime fighting.
Burt Ward, who starred as Robin in the superhero series “Batman,” admitted to Fox News he and Adam West became very acquainted with groupies during the Swinging Sixties.
“Yes,” said the 73-year-old actor. “We were just regular crime-fighting citizens. And there was certainly an allure to being a superhero. And it was a different period… So yeah. When I wasn’t married, I went out and had a lot of fun. But for the last 29 years, I’m the happiest married guy in the world and the luckiest guy in the world."
He also vividly remembers the time he first met Catwoman, played by Julie Newmar.
“[She was] very tall,” he recalled. “Oh my gosh. I think she was 6’3”. Adam was 6’5”. And they put three-inch heels on him to make him bigger. I’m only 5’8” and they took off the heels of my shoes. And Alan Napier, our butler Alfred, was [6’6”]. So there were all these giant people around and I’m the… short guy. In comparison to Julie, to Adam, I was tiny!”
However, Ward shared that his first day on set was as tough as slipping into tights. He claimed that during the first four days he was sent to the emergency room after suffering from injuries while performing his own stunts.
“The doctor and I got to be friends,” he chuckled. “He said, ‘Are you accident-prone?’ I said, ‘No, this is a very dangerous show I’m making!’”
For Ward’s first day filming “Batman," he was required to hop in the Batmobile and fly out 55 miles per hour into Gotham City. And while West had his own stuntman, Ward was in for a big surprise.
“I went in the Batmobile and I said, ‘Who are you and why are you dressed [as] Batman?’” Ward recalled. He said, ‘I’m a stuntman… This is a very dangerous shot and [the producers] don’t want to take a chance on Adam West getting hurt.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s good.’ Then I’m thinking about it. So dangerous. And I say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. Do I have a stuntman?’ ‘Well yes, you do. He’s over there having coffee with Adam West.’
“Then I go, ‘Wait a minute! Why aren’t you using my stuntman?’ He said, ‘We can’t use him Burt.’ I say, ‘Why not?’ “He goes, ‘He doesn’t look like you.’ ‘I say, ‘Why would you hire a stuntman to be my stuntman if he doesn’t look like me?’ He goes, ‘Couldn’t find anybody.’ So I did the stunt.’”
Ward said he ended the day with a dislocated finger. However, he couldn’t jet over to the hospital quite yet.
“The driver made a fantastic sharp turn,” said Ward. “But unexpectedly, my door flew open. And I was flown out. I catch my little finger around the gearshift. Pure luck, it kept me from falling out, but it took my finger out of joint. The camera got knocked over, lights got knocked over. They came over and saw me. And even with my glove on, my hand was already double in size. They said, ‘Burt we’ve got to get you to the hospital, your finger has obviously been pulled out of joint.’
“I said, ‘Well great, where do I go?’ ‘Oh no, we can’t leave now, we haven’t gotten the shot. We’ve got to get the shot first.’ And guess what, that was 7:30 in the morning. We left for the hospital at noon.”
Ward acknowledged that since his days playing Robin, the comic has taken a dark turn in Hollywood with the “Dark Knight” franchise. The new DC Universe series “Titans” recently stirred headlines after Robin sent comic book fans into a tailspin by declaring “F--- Batman” in its trailer.
Ward said he has not seen the show, but he and West have always been proud of the work they created for fans.
“My dear friend Adam West… considered himself to be the Bright Knight,” said Ward. “And I’m very proud of what I did because our show was family entertainment. It was for every member of your home. It was wholesome. It wasn’t something that you couldn’t [show] your kids. You could definitely show them Batman, the ones that I did.
“Even today, people come up to me and say things like, ‘I could have ended up on the wrong side of the law. But I watched ‘Batman’ and now I ended up in law enforcement.’ ‘I became a fireman.’ ‘I became something positive for people.’ So we’re very proud of what we did with our Batman.”
However, Ward shared his former co-star West, who passed away in 2017 at age 88 from leukemia, gave up on the chance to suit up for another iconic character — that of 007. He claimed West was offered to play James Bond in the big screen after Sean Connery, but turned the role down. George Lazenby appeared in 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," followed by Roger Moore in 1973's "Live and Let Die." In between, Connery appeared in 1971's "Diamonds Are Forever."
“Remember, James Bond was a British agent,” said Ward. “And Adam, being an American, he always felt that the proper way to do it was to have a Brit play a role. And that’s why he turned it down. Although I think later on, when he saw what an opportunity he missed, he might have rethought that.”
Ward's impersonation of Robin alongside West aired from 1966 until 1968. Nowadays, Ward is off to different ventures — he coins himself “the canine crusader” for operating Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions with his spouse. Along with his wife, he also created an American-made dog food brand sold in Walmart.
“We take no salary from it,” he said. “When we went to make it, we weren’t focused on trying to make money from it because it’s our charity … And what makes our food so different? All you have to do is go feel your dog food… You’re going to feel that slightly greasy feeling on the outside… We don’t add all that extra fat. We make a healthier food and our dogs are living longer.”