CJAD: On the line with us right now, the original Boy Wonder himself, Burt Ward, who actually has a new book out, oh what a coincidence, called BOY WONDER: MY LIFE IN TIGHTS. Hello Burt, how are you doing?
BURT: HELLO CITIZEN!!!!
CJAD: (laughter) Nice to hear from you sir.
BURT: It's great to be visiting with you.
CJAD: You brought a book out and in it you tell all the dirt about being the Boy Wonder. Why now?
BURT: Well because only now is the story complete. When I entered BATMAN as a naive 20-year-old who had only dated a couple of girls, I met Adam West, who immediately introduced me to the wildest sexual debauchery that you can imagine. Within a few months we were like two hungry sharks in a world of unlimited halibut. (laughter). Maybe I'm a little too harsh on Adam. Actually, to be more descriptive, he was more like a killer whale in a world of plankton. Together we had this wild time. Of course, remember, then was the 60s. You know, it's a different world now, but to skip ahead and really answer your question, only in the last five years did I find what I call holy maturity, finding the balance, finding the right person in my life so that I could live a normal life.
CJAD: Well the way you make it sound, do you have regrets about BATMAN?
BURT: Oh gosh no. How can you? I mean, we're talking about some of the wildest things you can imagine. Things that were absolutely kept from the public. In my book, BOY WONDER: MY LIFE IN TIGHTS, everything I have in there is only the material and the things that people would most likely never have found out about. Everything that was regular and average I left out because people already know about it.
CJAD: You bring up a time...again you say it's the 60s...it's different from the way it is now, but another thing that's different about it is the fact that this stuff went on and nobody knew about it. Do you think two television stars like yourself in today's world could get away with all the stuff you guys got away with without being known, and conversely would people care?
BURT: Well first of all, good question...people did know about. The people on the show. I mean when you come into the set at 7:30 in the morning and you come out of make-up and the first thing you know, the ladies start coming into our dressing rooms at 7:45. We're talking about wild times in the dressing rooms, on the set, between the shots, in the lunch wagon. When we got home at night after fourteen hours on the set, I think we redefined the meaning of the word pleasure pad. And then of course, doing the personal appearances on the weekend, that's where it really got wild. And I have to be honest with you, we became like sexual vampires. On our show, I must tell you, it was...the 60s was a period of time when everything was free love. People made love to each other. It was a very open life, you know? So it wasn't as though we were out soliciting or anything. We were the ones being chased. But I must tell you, in today's world, which is really a sad reflection of our time, with the horrors and the scourge of Aids and God only knows what else is lurking out there, that in this time it seems like about the only safe sex is to read a book!
CJAD: (laughter) Maybe even yours.
BURT: Well, mine is pretty wild, I must tell you. It's only for adults. In fact I have a full page warning, right in the front of the book, that no one under the age of eighteen should read this book and no one should even turn the pages if they are sexually conservative or erotically deprived.
CJAD: Now I'm just curious to know if you were concerned about the image that you've had all these years playing Robin the Boy Wonder and whether you're tarnishing that to any degree by bringing out a book like this?
BURT: No, I don't think so, and I'll tell you why. I state right on the back cover of the book. Our characters were antiseptic but we weren't. And if you remember what we did on BATMAN, as the scripts were written very funny, we played them very straight. So for children, they had the hero worship of super heroes and we never, ever in any way tarnished that image. For the adults, they remembered the nostalgia of the comic books and for teenagers and college kids, it was that put on style. Now, we used to say we put on our tights to put on the world. So I don't think it tarnishes the image at all. On the contrary, what it does say is that, "hey everybody, while you thought that this was going on, in addition to that we were human beings and not just comic book characters and this was one of the wildest times that you could possibly imagine." We found that just by the way we stood, affected women dramatically, and if you look at our show, you'll see that we always stood with our legs open our fists on hips and our bat bulges forward, which had a profound effect on women!
CJAD: Backup! Our bat bulges forward (laughter)
BURT: Yes, and then course we'd make these personal appearances and it was just insanity. It was such wild and crazy times.
CJAD: You did personal appearances even after the show went off the air, right?
BURT: For twenty years. And this is where Adam and I would often do appearances together. And you know, I must tell you the life of being a super hero, so to speak, and our show in particular, just drew people to us. They flocked to us and they went crazy! Even in Los Angeles, where we lived, when we would date somebody or go out with them, if we went out with somebody else the next night, we often found that women were banging on our windows while we were bedded down with other women! It was a real nightmare. But my book talks about more then just the wild and crazy sex that happened on BATMAN and after BATMAN. It talks about all the explosions, I mean the really dangerous things that happened where I was hospitalized with second and third degree burns from explosions, from the Batmobile cracking up, from the fist fights, the feuds, the vendettas, as well as the super hero sex with young fans. It's a total uninhibited romp. The book is not in Canada yet. I'm hoping that we can get a distributor for it up in Canada. Here in America, it's in every major book store in America....
CJAD: It came out in late August, or actually late July, correct?
BURT: Yes, it started late July but really now this month it's everywhere. In a number of stores such as B. Dalton, it's already in the best seller department. I'm hoping that I'll be able to find a distributor to come into Canada with it, because I think it is a wild and crazy romp that really tells things like it is. You know, I could have written a book like other celebrities where they talk about all the sizzling stuff and it ends up that in one sentence in one paragraph somewhere hidden in the book is something that's a little eye opener. But I didn't do that. I told it just like it is, totally factual, with no restraints, letting the audience or the reader judge for themselves what they want and what they like and it is very strong stuff. There's no question about it, but it's also very funny because it's very satirical and written in the same kind of Batmanesque humour that our show was written.
CJAD: Now, sometimes when a person comes out with a book that tells all, they tell all from the point of view that they are slightly bitter, but it sounds like you enjoyed your days working on BATMAN and the life that it brought you afterward.
BURT: I had the greatest time of my life! Even working with Adam, who I really adore, okay, but who absolutely drove me crazy upstaging me, constantly blocking me from the camera, that I was always having to be on my toes. And even when he said his lines, I must tell you, he spoke his lines so slowly that snails could make love while he's doing it, (laughter). And he did it on purpose, because his theory was, "if I speak twice as slowly as I'm supposed to, the camera will be forced to stay on me twice as long.
CJAD: Interesting theory.
BURT: And so, even with that I still had a great time and I played some terrible practical jokes on Adam. Things that he's embarrassed to death about. And of course, now that my book is out, which exposes both of us for what we were doing....I've been calling around to local hospitals to see if he's checked in with a heart attack.
CJAD: Let's go to the lines with Burt Ward. Daniel on the South Shore hello.
CALLER: (young boy) Hi, who was your favorite villain to work with?
BURT: Well that's a good question. You know honestly, I enjoy working with everyone because remember, these were all real pros that had been around the business a long time. I enjoyed Burgess Meredith as the Penguin, Cesar Romero as the Joker, certainly Frank Gorshin, the Riddler and Julie Newmar, the Catwoman. In fact in my book I have an anecdote about Julie. It's called "A Felonious Feline Shows Her Fur Coat."
CJAD: Daniel, let me ask you a question, how old are you?
CALLER: I'm nine.
BURT: NINE!!! OH MY GOODNESS, WE'VE ONLY GOT TO TALK ABOUT CLIMBING THE WALLS! You're not 18-years-old. Golly Gee Willickers! HOLY DRIVER'S LICENSE!
CJAD: How does it feel, Burt, to have literally generations of fans?
BURT: Well I must tell you it feels pretty good. I have two children. I have a daughter 29, and a daughter four. They are 25 years apart, so you speak about generations and I must tell you, I have a philosophy and that is every 25 years I'm going to sire another child. And I even have two grandkids. And people say to me, "now Burt, you look so young!", and I say "Holy formaldehyde, I'm well preserved." But they say, "what is it like to be a grandfather?" And I say, "I must tell you, it's really not all that different from being a father except it feels a little strange making love to a grandmother!
CJAD: (laughter) Okay Daniel?
BURT: GOOD LUCK DANIEL, WOWEE-ZOWEE, TO THE BATMOBILE! Gosh gee willickers. Peter, you're going to have to make sure that they're eighteen because I'm going to have to answer them as Robin would answer them. I've got to protect these young kids.
CJAD: How did you get the part?
BURT: I was studying acting, going to UCLA, selling real estate on the weekends. I was fortunate enough to sell a house to a producer who sent me to an agent, who said to me, "listen we have so many clients we can't get work for, don't expect to work a year and the only reason we're taking you is because this producer sent you to us." But never the less, they finally sent me out, like about two months after meeting them, and BATMAN the series was the first thing I tried out for and I got it. And of course after I got it they said to me, "oh yes Burt, we knew you could do it.
CJAD: And how old were you at the time you said...twenty?
BURT: Twenty years of age.
CJAD: Now, you looked very young, but the thing that astonishes me is you look in the book and see your current picture, you still look very young. And if anybody hears you right now, you don't sound any different then you did 25 years ago.
BURT: Yeah, I don't know what it is. Maybe it was all those wild times that kept me young.
CJAD: Let's go back to the lines. Rob in Pierrefonds, hello.
CALLER: Hello Burt, how are you doing?
BURT: Fine, thank you.
CALLER: This isn't my question, but how old are you if you don't mind my asking?
BURT: 49 and holding. Holding tight! Fighting that heinous age every step of the way.
CALLER: My question is, did you ever try out for the role for Robin in the newer BATMAN.
BURT: No, in fact I wasn't invited, nor did they want Adam or me. Let me tell you why exactly that is. We did a family show. Our show was oriented towards Mom and Dad and the kids, teenagers. Everybody could watch our show. The three BATMAN movies that have come out, the studio must feel that they need to present this in a much darker more ominous, more violent, more degrading way, because they didn't want any association with anything was uplifting or wholesome or all American apple pie. And that's the answer to it. I don't happen to agree with it. I honestly think that Adam and I could have done an incredible job doing the roles. Let me tell you something, this is not against the other actors like Val Kilmer or Michael Keaton. They're great too. But Adam West and I were Batman and Robin....
CALLER: That's right...
BURT: And just like you have STAR TREK that had William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in the original series, which was followed by, I don't know, five, six, probably now going to be seven features, all of which were successful, there's no reason we couldn't have done it. It's just that there is some theory that you have to kill so many people per second and you have to have such death defying violence that we could not be believed. And to be honest with you, if we were going to do it, we wouldn't have wanted to do it that same way. We believe you can have all the kind of entertainment you want appeal to all ages. Because right now you have a movie that only should be seen by adults, these three films, and when I went to see the movie, I was very upset to see children two, three, four, five, six years old in that theatre that should never have been in there.
CALLER: Exactly....definitely. I think you both would have done a better job.
BURT: Well we certainly would have had fun. We would have made it for all ages. Truly, you know.
CALLER: Exactly, I miss the "Holy Heavens, Batman" or something like that.
BURT: Well you know in this last BATMAN movie, there was a line where Chris O'Donnell as Robin says something....
CALLER: Yeah, "Holy rusted metal, Batman!"
BURT: Yeah, and you know everybody laughed, and I've been told by about a half a dozen people, that they said that that was the one thing that they like the most in the entire movie, which is a tie-in to our show. So apparently Warner Brothers really hasn't gotten the message yet, but maybe they will.
CALLER: I hope so.
BURT: Thank you.
CALLER: Thank you, Burt.
CJAD: Thank you for the call....Well you know, in defense of the Warner Brothers movies they said they wanted to make it a little darker, make it more like the original comic book, and that aside....
BURT: Well how dark do you want to make it?
CJAD: Okay, let's assume...let's go with that theory for now. But even then, wouldn't you have been open to say, if they asked, doing a cameo in another part per say. just to.....
BURT: Yeah probably, but they don't want any association whatsoever, and you know, I must tell you, it's not that I'm putting Warner Brothers down, because it's not a whole studio. It's a producer, it's a director, maybe a writer. It's somebody who maybe has a slant on the situation, but no matter what, and they're fine...I mean, as far as I'm concerned everybody has an artistic choice and if they want to do it darker that's fine, but no matter what, there shouldn't have been any children in that audience. Period, end of story. No kids should see that kind of violence where Batman is killing as many people as the bad guys.
CJAD: Now you mention in the book, you talk about the fact that everyone was concerned about your "bat bulge." And in the new movie Chris O'Donnell has nipples for crying out loud!
BURT: Well yeah, and I must tell you the difference between....we wore costumes. And those costumes were form fitting. They don't wear costumes. They were like suits of armour, which have nothing to do with what their bodies underneath are really like. So, this thing with the nipples is this director who directed this thing. This is his own, I think, personal spin on making Robin a little more bisexual, if you will, because you know, Dick Grayson's haircut was done in a butch haircut. He obviously directed Jim Carrey to swish when he walked. Jim Carrey is one hell of a man. He doesn't normally do that. So this was the director's spin which I find highly offensive and really only playing to a very small segment of our audience.
CJAD: That brings us to another question. You know, there has always been talk. We're hearing about this book and all the things that went on backstage, but there's always been talk about the relationship between Batman and Robin. That must have annoyed you over the years?
BURT: Well, not at all. Let me tell you something. I'll give you the whole story in a nutshell. In the 1950s there was a psychiatrist that felt that the Batman- Robin relationship represented a wish dream of two homosexuals. And he based that on the fact that Batman was a muscular older man that took this young teenage boy under his wing who agreed to everything that Bruce Wayne asked him to do. I mean, kids don't normally agree to what parental suggestions are. And in this case, this was not an adoption. It was very clear that it was a different kind of relationship, but it didn't necessarily have to be homosexual. Now I've gotten a lot of questions when I was filming the show. They say, "well you know, it's kind of a strange and unnatural relationship." And I'd say, "hey wait a minute! What's so strange and unnatural about two guys who run around wearing tights and live together?" (laughter) You know, and I will say this though, when we did put on our costumes, and you look at the opulence of the Wayne Manor and the impenetrable dark cave and they spend so many long hours together. I mean, I can see where some people might start to think in certain directions. But in our own personal case, we were out fighting all these heinous girls off and sometimes even cheek to cheek as we did it.
CJAD: Mario, hi you're on the air
CALLER: Yes, good evening, I was just going to ask Burt what he thought of the BATMAN movies, but he answered that question already.
BURT: Okay, do you have another question I could answer for you?
CALLER: Yeah, I saw BATMAN RETURNS and I was really disappointed. It was really just a loud thing, and nothing much you know....
CJAD: Well let me ask you a question, Mario, were you a big fan of the television show.
CALLER: No, I came to Canada in 1975. I came later.
CJAD: Did you ever see it in reruns.
CALLER: Yes I did.
CJAD: What did you think.
CALLER: It was cute. Maybe if I had been younger, you know, watching as a kid, but today....I wanted to ask you. Do you still do shows, do you do appearances.
BURT: Yes, I do. I make personal appearances around the country. I'm starting a book tour now, and I may be coming to Toronto with the Learning Annex, which I'm doing all through the United States, so that may come up just before Christmas. And if in fact I get distribution into Canada with my book, then I might hit the major cities of which of course Montreal is one of my favourites of all of North America. Most beautiful women in the world come from Montreal.
CALLER: I have two quick questions. Is it hard for you to do any other roles after you finished with BATMAN series.
BURT: Yes, in the last five years I've starred in eighteen films, of which are mainly SHOWTIME and HBO and video films. Unfortunately they are not the big theatrical ones that I'd like, but it does keep a constant bit of work and I enjoy doing them.
CALLER: And what is Adam West doing now.
BURT: Well, he's doing a lot of different things, although, now that my book has come out, I'm going to be checking with the local hospitals to see if he's checked in. Maybe with the rest homes to see if he's had a heart attack. I don't know, he keeps very busy, but he certainly is shocked about all the stuff I've revealed about the both of us in this book.
CALLER: Okay, thank you very much.
BURT: Thank you very much for calling.
CJAD: Thank you for the call....we go to Rob, hi, you're on the air.
CALLER: Hi Burt, what's your feeling about other children's programming today?
BURT: Well you know, let me tell you something. I like to protect children. I mean, there's nothing wrong with having adult programming for mature adults that can selectively decide what they want to watch and what they don't want to watch. I'd hate to think that even as mature adults we have to censor what we see. But, for children, it is the most formative time in their life, between the ages of two and eight. And the reason I seem to talk with some knowledge is that because I had a company that produced educational programs for kids to teach them values in pre-school. We're talking about things like honesty and integrity and sharing and caring and it is the single most important time, these formative years. And in America, and I guess maybe to a lesser extent in Canada, we have a lot of gang problems where kids thirteen, fourteen years old...I mean will as, "why don't you just go to school and by a good student and grow up and get a nice job and get married and live a nice life? Why do you want to be in a gang?" And they say, "because we like it better." I mean, it's like their own value system is affected when they are young. I don't mean to be preaching about this, but the one thing that pop psychologists and psychiatrists say that if you want children to grow up and live more mature better lives as adults and support our society the way it should be, we've got to teach them while they are young the important things they want to know. So programming that stimulates children, not cartoons that constantly teach violence and teach death and stuff like that, but uplifting things. That's the kind of programming that kids should be exposed to. Let them be kids. They're going to grow up fast enough as it is.
CALLER: In that case, since you kind of answered the question towards the end, I guess today's children's programming is very violent and I agree with you that it certainly is not good for kids to be inundated with this violence and it's kind of interesting when you think about the sexuality that for some reason people are very afraid to allow kids to see sexuality, but violence is not a problem at all. But my point being the BATMAN movies aren't really more violent then what they see on television so since they are seeing violence anyway in cartoons, for them to go to the movies with their parents, I mean, it has a certain rating anyway. And they are hitting a different audience in the older folks, the younger kids that come along with their parents. Do you see any point there?
BURT: Well, listen, what you're saying is a hundred percent correct, but I'm not sure I agree with you. Now maybe your programming there where you live is different then programming here in the Los Angeles area. But I must tell you, the kind of violence....if you saw this last BATMAN FOREVER, I've never seen anything on television with the grotesqueness and the.....it's more then just the violence, it's the debasing, perverted kind of mentality with which it's presented. That's I find very offensive. Now it's not to say that Warner Brothers should be slapped on the wrist for producing that kind of programming. I mean, they are entitled to produce what they want and they are entitled to solicit to what audience they want. But I think that there should be a moral responsibility that when you produce violence that is....I mean, like how many killings a minute in this film, and which is hardly anything else but that, that they really should make sure that children aren't exposed to it. I don't see on television the kind of blood and guts and body parts blown apart that maybe you're referring too, but it certainly is in that BATMAN feature and I found it very offensive. In fact it ruined the film for me that I saw children there that should never have been in that theatre. That's just my own personal opinion.
CJAD: Thank you for the call.....quick question. The television show was on in prime time, because we are talking about children's programming and we're talking about evening programming. The show was on in prime time. It was adored by children, but was it initially put on the air for kids?
BURT: No, listen, if it were put on the air just for children, we would not have all the double meanings. Think about it for a minute. Why would they have gone to the trouble to hire the best comedy writers in the business to write funny material for us to play straight, if the children in our audience were the only audience.
BURT: The whole point was we were searching...and when I mean we, I mean the network and the producers, were searching for the broadest possible audience. Now it wasn't hard to get the adults, because of the nostalgia. But what was the hardest thing to get in the 60s was that rebellious teenager and college kid audience. And I must tell you, we achieved getting their interest, because every Tuesday and Thursday as I understand it, kids in college fought for seats in the dorms, just to be able to watch BATMAN.
CJAD: That was also something else that was very interesting about the show. It was on twice a week.
BURT: Right, it was a cliffhanger. The whole concept of our show was that we were saying for kids this is hero worship, for adults this is nostalgia and for you teenagers, for you cynical young ones that are coming up in the world with better ideas of how to improve our world....of all of which I agree with anyway, but....we want to give you something that is going to really capture your attention and we are going to tease you and we're going to taunt you and we're going to see how sharp you are if you can pick up all this innuendo that we're putting into it.
CJAD: Do you think part of the draw for the teenagers was that a lot of the boys wanted to be Robin?
BURT: Well I don't know for teenagers if it was, but I guess when it came to all the gorgeous villains girlfriends, I'm sure even the adults wanted to be Batman and Robin. In fact, I must tell you something. You know, my book is true. My book is very wild. But you know during the period of BATMAN, that there were thousands of Batman and Robin costumes sold and these weren't just for kids. We're talking about adults that put them on in their private lives with their spouses or girlfriends or boyfriends. Whatever was the case.
CJAD: Well, I had the cape as a kid.
BURT: HOLY CLOSETED CRIME FIGHTER!
CJAD: But I know an awakening for me was the first time I saw Yvonne Craig....HELLO!
BURT: Let me tell you. Now Yvonne Craig is so beautiful. When she came on to the set the first day of the third season, we needed turkish towels to wipe up all the drool form the crew members.
CJAD: Could that costume she wore as Batgirl be any tighter?
BURT: No, and let me tell you something. It was so form fitting in every place that you can imagine that Adam came over to me and he said to me just before the shot in that very deep voice of his. He says, "Burt, let's make a bat sandwich (laughter). I said "Adam, oh my God!" He said, "oh girls love it." I said, "Adam, don't talk like that." And we got into this position called the Siamese Human Knot which was on our show, in which Batman, Robin and Batgirl were all.....their bodies were intertwined very closely. The theory being that if any of us moved an inch, we'd all strangle. And I'll never forget, just before the shot, I felt this unexpected groping. And I thought, "oh my gosh, I can't believe it, first Adam West and now Yvonne Craig is going to be this wild!" But it turned out, she wasn't the one doing it, it was that Adam West! I slapped his hand and that's when I nicknamed him "The Groper".
CJAD: Pat in Dorval. Hi, you're on the air with Burt Ward.
CALLER: Hi, I was just wondering, since I was going to ask the same question you just did. Did you ever go out with her?
BURT: Only as friends. It's one thing when you work with the same people every day and because when people get physically involved with each other, it's really better to keep things separate, because you never know. Things that are great today might not be so great tomorrow. Let me tell you something. Everybody had an unbelievably spectacular time. In fact, I must tell you there is one thing in my book where I dated a who was a villian's girlfriend. I won't mention her name, because after one date with her, as I left her house I found that I was going through and actually exiting the place, and as I came back through the livingroom in the dark...we had been there late and had been very intimate with each other, is that she came after me with a butcher knife and nearly stabbed me to death. I got out of the door and the next day on the set she said, "you know I always wanted to feel the feeling that Tony Perkins did in PYSCHO......
BURT: ....as the mother. And she said, "gosh, what an exhilaration I felt!" She said, "let's go out tonight." I said, "no thank you. Enough is enough all ready."
CALLER: It wasn't Joan Collins was it?
BURT: No, no, Joan Collins was the siren. She was the lead. I'm talking about every villain had a girlfriend, although in Catwoman's case she had a young assistant. Her name was Pussycat. And one of the great lines on BATMAN is she came up to me, and this was played by Leslie Gore, and she said, "hi Robin, my name is Pussycat, but you can call me......Cat." (laughter). And my friend Stanley Ralph Ross, who wrote 34 episodes of BATMAN and who is the editor of my book, he had written that line. He also got me in a lot of trouble when he had me in one of my anecdotes called "Well Hung", I was hung over three Bengal tigers that were supposed to be trying to get at me. Here I was ten feet above them. They can jump twelve to fifteen feet as I found out later and the director and the camera man were ten feet higher then me in a steel protective cage and my head is being hung over these tigers and the tigers looked and growled. I think because I wore a costume that may have saved me from really getting hurt. But then the director said to the handlers, to the wild animal handlers, and these were not tamed these were wild animals. He said, "well can't you make them do something," and the way I was tied down I didn't notice but they hung raw meat over my head and those tigers jumped up in my face and the director said, "great, Burt, realistic! Wonderful! Great!" When I found out about that raw meat, I wanted to kill that director. But he was in that protective cage so I couldn't get to him.
CJAD: Okay, Pat?
CALLER: No, I got another question. My wife wanted to know if people still recognize you. You know, like just walking down the street or walking down the mall, and if you're still as good looking now as you were then.
BURT: Well, pretty much so. Let me say this. My voice is highly recognizable. The name is highly recognizable. But you know, it's funny. In our world, if you go about your day tomorrow and you run into somebody who is a celebrity. If you're really not aware that that person is in town or whatever, you can sometimes walk right in front of somebody and not recognize them, because your mind is on different things. So it depends how aware the people are of what their surroundings are when I meet them. Certainly, on two occasions I wear my costume. One on Halloween when I go trick or treating with my daughter, and the other occasion for very private moments with my wife (laughter). Now, when I go trick or treating in my costume, I have more people say, "this is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. You look just like that guy that played Robin on BATMAN! How could you, I mean, do you have a mask? Is that a special hairpiece for your hair? I mean, you look just like him!"
CALLER: No royalties, eh?
CJAD: Frank in LaSalle, hi, you're on the air.
CALLER: Hi Burt!
BURT: HELLO THERE CITIZEN!
CALLER: I want to ask you a question about Bruce Lee. You did two episodes with him, right?
BURT: Yes. Bruce Lee and I lived in the same condominium complex. We were friends before he got the role of Kato. Bruce and I used to spar and practice together. You know he was a fantastic martial artists. Probably more responsible then anyone in North America for bringing the martial arts. On BATMAN we did have our fight and in fact that was Bruce Lee's first televised or filmed fight seen. That was with me.
CALLER: Was he really fast?
BURT: Oh yes, really fast. Let me explain something. This was a guy that was not an actor. He was a trained martial artist that eight hours a day it's all he did. He practiced, he practiced, he practiced, he practiced. He was extremely fast. Extremely fast. And very intelligent. I remember, at the time I was married and he and his wife Linda and Brandon as their baby, we'd all go out to dinner down to Chinatown and Bruce was a very articulate very brilliant young man. Very aggressive and a lot of fun to be around.
CALLER: Did he take his acting as seriously?
BURT: He took his martial art very seriously and to the extent that he could do acting roles....and I think he was quite good. I mean he was a very talented guy and I think he did a good job. I think he was an excellent actor as well. He had a natural openness and the confidence that the martial arts gave him allowed him to be more open with his emotions as an actor.
CJAD: Thank you for the call Frank......All the years you did the series as Robin, a lot of intricate stunts. You were usually swinging from something, if I recall....
BURT: Yeah, well let me tell you. I had a stuntman on BATMAN for me, as well as there was a stuntman for Adam, but it was very interesting. I ended up doing most of my own stunts and getting hurt quite a bit. I had never been in an emergency hospital in my life before BATMAN. I was in one the first four days in a row of the first five days of shooting. They had a policy on BATMAN and that policy was, if there was ever anything really dangerous. Life threatening. Always use Burt. And I think the reason was because I was so low paid and because it was cheaper for them to use me and pay my salary and the hospital bills, then to pay a high priced stuntman.
BURT: I mean, the first day, the first shot, we have a stunt driver driving the Batmobile, coming out of the Batcave, racing towards the camera, at 55mph and seventeen feet in front of that camera the stuntman makes this turn. A fast turn. And we slide right up to the camera. We would have been okay, but my door flew open, knocked the camera equipment down, knocked the people off the dolly. I had started to fly out of the Batmobile and I was able to catch my little finger. My pinky finger around the gear shift knob. It completely pulled my finger out of joint and I had to go to the emergency hospital, but I couldn't go until they reshot the shot twice to get it right. Then another day they had an explosion set up where they were supposed to have a breakaway wall. This was the first episode with Frank Gorshin and Jill St. John. Batman was supposed to break through a subway wall to rescue me. The people who built the set failed to make a breakaway set. So therefore when the small charge went off, nothing broke through. So there was not time to get in there with saws and send all day making it a breakaway set. So what the special effects guys did in their infinite wisdom was take three half sticks of dynamite and nearly blew the entire soundstage down. And on top of that there were many occasions where I was tied down and these special effects guys were setting charges on or near me and I would smell liquor on their breath. And I gotta tell you, that's a very bad sign when you smell liquor on the breath of a guy setting an explosive charge by you!
CJAD: (laughter) I tend to agree. Let's go back to the lines. Dennis in Lachine, hi.
CALLER: Hi, Burt, nice to talk to you.
BURT: Hi there.
CALLER: I missed a lot of my homework watching you guys.
BURT: Oh, great!
CALLER: Listen, how did the show finally come to an end. Was there a meeting of some sort or what happened?
BURT: Well let me tell you. It was all a matter of money. It was not the ratings because we were still in the top twenty. What happened was because of the special effects, because we had a much larger crew. A hundred men on the crew. The studio was losing about two to three hundred thousand dollars every week. Now you multiply that out times 120 episodes and you're talking about real pain. So what happened was that the offer for syndication came in, which meant that they although they would get less money per show as far as the sales end of it, they would have no costs in making it, so immediately they started recouping their profits and with 120 episodes that was enough to sell it forever. So that's the reason we went off prime time.
CJAD: Okay Dennis.....Brad in Pincourt, hello.
CALLER: Hello Burt.
BURT: Hi there!
CALLER: I tell you. I was born in 57. I was a fan. And I know people with BATMAN memorabilia, including kids. And I find that my kids can watch POWER RANGERS and go half crazy, and they watch BATMAN and they get a laugh out of it.
BURT: Right. Well remember the technology today is different than then.
CALLER: Oh, I mean in a positive sense. They enjoy it!
BURT: But even so, you know, at the time we made our show, I mean, think about it. In another couple of months it's going to be 30 years. At the time we filmed BATMAN we were way ahead of our time. I mean our show was satirical with double meanings. No one had ever done things like that. No one had taken villian's hideouts with signs telling you it was a villain's hideout. With cameras turned on edge because the villains were crooked, and therefore they were filmed crooked. I mean, it was different and in today's world you have so much "zap powwing" and fighting of a different, more violent nature, that BATMAN may seem different to them. But I still think kids enjoy it anywhere.
CALLER: The violence in BATMAN when they had the signs, "pow", "zap", all of this. That made it unreal.
BURT: Oh yes, it was fun. We used to say, "we put on our tights to put on the world." In fact we were the only super heroes that wore our underwear on the outside of our clothes.
CALLER: I heard you in Boston or something, I think, on Friday. I was in Quebec City and had the radio on, on one of these skips. We have stations that come in and come out.
BURT: Yes, and some of the interviews in the States are so sizzling that I get a little bit embarrassed. They get very wild and very uncontrollable. And I keep saying, "oh my gosh", and here they'll confront me with an embarrassing question, but then.....
CALLER: I just wanted to know about Adam West out of the hotel room.
BURT: Yes, and I've written a book that is very wild. It's for adults though. And I must tell you, in this very dangerous world we live in, in the 90s, reading a book like this is about the only safe sex.
CJAD: Gotta let you go Brad, thank you for calling....We're just about out of time. I apologize for those who are standing by on the lines who want to talk to you, but the hour went by so quickly. I thank you for talking with us, Burt. It's been an absolute pleasure.
BURT: Well thank you for a spectacular interview. I must tell you I love Montreal. It's the Paris of North America. The most beautiful women in the world. Very handsome guys. It's a great city and I love visiting it.
CJAD: The book is called BOY WONDER: MY LIFE IN TIGHTS. Burt Ward, Robin from the TV series BATMAN. Edited by Stanley Ralph Ross. It is published by Logical Figments Books. It will soon be in Canada and it will sell here for $17.95. Thank you Burt for talking with us.
BURT: TO THE BATMOBILE CITIZEN!