Saturday, August 9, 2008
Holy Bert John Gervis, Jr., Batman!
With all the attention gained by Heath Ledger’s breathtaking performance as the Joker (and the actor’s untimely death) and the overwhelming popularity of The Dark Knight (some now believe that this new Batman film will overtake Titanic  as the all-time box-office champ), there’s been plenty (and by plenty I mean more than usual) of Batman history and analysis on the Internet. One of the best aspects of this expanded interest in Batman is the attention being given the Batman TV show, the ABC twice-a-week series that created a nationwide Bat craze in 1966. One of the best comic book blogs (it’s actually more of an online magazine), Dial B For Blog, has already featured an extensive and authoritative history of the "secret origins" of the Batman TV show, but now the “blogazine” features 16 “Batman Fun Facts” created by Dial B For Blog’s Robby Reed, illuminating some fascinating factoids about the television series. I’m including two of these trading card-like “Fun Facts” here to spotlight Burt Ward, who portrayed the definitive Robin. Despite the woeful and disgraceful salary paid this co-star of a hit series, as seen in the first Fun Fact here, it’s incredible to realize that, in a overnight-stardom Hollywood story, young Mr. Ward (real name: Bert John Gervis, Jr.) was cast out of nowhere without any film, TV or acting experience, because he was the very embodiment of the famous superhero teenage sidekick (and because of his athletic abilities—as you can see from one of the Fun Facts included here, Burt was skilled in karate). Burt’s overplayed earnestness was part of the show’s over-the-top “camp” approach to what are after all outlandish characters, and his overly enthusiastic exclamation, “Holy [you-name-it], Batman!” (an expression that I very much doubt the comic-book character ever employed), became a catchphrase that is still evoked today (and I find it hilarious that in both of the "Facts" represented here, Robby Reed could not resist suggesting Robin is saying a "Holy" that he would never actually say on the show!). But I think it’s important to keep in mind that Burt’s Boy Wonder works on a sincere level and is even appreciated as a role model for some viewers. I remember reading in the Comments section of some website related to the Batman TV series a post saying that the grandmother of the person posting had praised the TV Robin’s manners and respectful attitude, and it took the commenter years to fully appreciate the truth of that observation. You can see all of Robby Reed’s Batman Fun Facts (and the rest of his extraordinary blog) here. (P.S. Happy Birthday, “Boy Wonder”!)