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Burt Ward (born Bert John Gervis, Jr., on July 6, 1945) is an American television actor. He is 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 and Adam West as the title character, also known as "The Caped Crusader."
Ward was born in Los Angeles, California. At the age of two, he was listed in the prolific 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 excelled in high school athletic activities such as football, track, and wrestling, and he was also a member of the chess club and earned a black belt in karate. After graduation, he enrolled in college, while working part-time for his father's real estate company.
At the age of 19, he decided to audition for the part of Robin, without having ever read a Batman comic book. Upon meeting with executive producer William Dozier for the role, Dozier was impressed, saying "Robin just walked into my office." Ward and Adam West were up against Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell for the roles of Batman and Robin. During this time, the show was being planned as a campy style action-adventure show, and their screen tests consisted of staged fight scenes and, at one point, Ward chopping a set of boards with his hand. Eventually, he was selected for the role of Robin at age twenty, stepping onto the screen in 1966 with the debut of Batman.
Burt Ward (a.k.a. Bert John Gervis, Jr.) decided upon his professional surname by using his mother's maiden name. He substituted the "e" with the "u" in his first name to add more of a "punch." Ward's reasoning behind the name change was that he was afraid that people would have a hard time pronouncing "Gervis" (which is pronounced with a soft-"G").
Unlike his series' lead, Adam West, Ward was required to do some dangerous stunt work, because his costume revealed more of his face than a stuntman could compensate for. According to a 2000 A&E Biography interview of his series' star, both Ward & West often feuded together, because of the costumes they were told to wear, and tempers flared off the set, though they are still good friends, after Batman's run.
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. According to Ward in an interview, he stated that the series only lasted three seasons, for a total of 120 episodes, due to the high cost of production. The show was still high in the ratings, but ABC was losing thousands of dollars on filming (this can be seen in the decline of the sets and constant re-use of stock footage). Later, NBC offered to pick it up for a fourth season, but the offer was withdrawn upon realization that the sets had been bulldozed.
After the end of Batman, Ward found himself hard-pressed to find other acting jobs. Ward only re-emerged on the movie scene to act in more than 30 made for television films such as Virgin High.
Although 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 the studio (20th Century Fox) did not want to dilute his popularity and identification as Robin.
Ward did, however, appear in numerous reunions with co-star Adam West. The most memorable reunions included Ward and West reprising their roles as Batman and Robin on a short-lived animated television series called The New Adventures of Batman 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, and walks out to the theme music from the Sixties Batman.
Ward has stated in the news section on his website that he will no longer be doing personal appearances in order to concentrate his time on family and his canine rescue organization.
Ward also wrote a tell-all autobiography called Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights, which described his life at the time that he played Robin. In 2001, Ward began Boy Wonder Visual Effects, Inc. which has provided visual effects for 25 studio features, 10 independent films, and several television series.
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 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.