Skip to content

See TV's Robin, Burt Ward, at 76

Batman's iconic sidekick has shared his most memorable on-set moments.

In 1966, the Batman TV series hit the airwaves, starring Adam West as the titular character. His iconic sidekick, the "Boy Wonder" Robin, was played by young actor Burt Ward, at the time just 19 years old. The "Dynamic Duo" dominated the small screen for three seasons, becoming cultural icons in the process. Today, Ward is 76 years old, and though it's been over 55 years since he hung up his tights, he still looks back fondly on his days as the most famous sidekick of the DC Comics universe. Read on to see him now, and to learn where his career has taken him since his youth as a TV crime-fighter.

RELATED: See Catwoman Lee Meriwether at 86.

Burt Ward was shocked when he learned he was cast as Robin.

Young Burt Ward, Batman actor, 1967
Avalon/Getty Images

Ward says that when he landed the role of Robin, he was the last to know it. In fact, there was quite a bit of confusion at the contract signing, since no one had called to inform him he had gotten the part. "After six weeks [following the screen test] I got a call from an agency. They said, 'Oh, come on in, we're going to have you sign contracts,'" he shared in an interview with Studio 10. "I look down [at the contract] and it wasn't the name of the agency—it was 20th Century Fox. I said, 'Well, wait a minute, I thought I was signing the agency contract,'" the actor recalled. As it turned out, both the talent agency and the production company had assumed the other had reached out to Ward to share the good news of his hiring.

However, the show's executives say that casting Ward as Robin was an obvious choice from the beginning. Executive producer William Dozier said at the time, "The boy, Burt Ward, had never done anything before and the moment he walked into this office, I knew we had Robin. He had this 'gee wiz, Mr. Dozier' approach right off the bat that couldn't be duplicated."

Ward says that the role came naturally to him, and much of his portrayal of Robin was improvised on the spot. "Hitting my fist, that was just something I did, not something they designed," the actor reminisced. "Jumping over the door of the Batmobile instead of opening the door, that was me. I just thought it would be cool."

RELATED: See Brady Bunch Star Barry Williams Now at 67.

He says some scenes were downright dangerous.

Burt Ward 2020 getting Hollywood Walk of Fame star
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Ward recalled shooting the opening scene of the TV series, in which the Batmobile tore out of the Batcave  and zoomed down the middle of a winding road. He remembered that he arrived on set to learn that West had been replaced with a stunt double, while he was expected to perform his own scene. "We come out of the Batcave, make a sharp turn and the sign goes down, and the car races off to Gotham City," the actor said. "As we made that sharp left turn, my door flew open and as I started to go out, I managed—totally lucky—to catch the gear shift with my little finger! It kept me from falling out, and it pulled my finger out of joint."

However, the actor was told he couldn't go to the emergency room until they "got the shot," which he says took until noon of that day. It would be the first of four consecutive days that he would spend in the hospital thanks to injuries from shooting the show. "I've never been in an emergency room in my life, and now all of these things are happening to me—I'm just trying to do this television show!" he told Studio 10.

He stays close with his co-stars.

Burt Ward Lee Meriwether Batman Cast 2018
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Ward says that part of the show's success came thanks to the on and off-screen chemistry he had with the cast, in particular Adam West. In fact, the two actors remained close until West's death in 2017. "We had a very special friendship," Ward said, affectionately describing the Batman actor as "so unpredictable—you'd never know what he was going to say next."

The pair reunited several times after the wrap of the show to reprise their roles as Batman and Robin, including on The New Adventures of Batman, Tarzan and the Super 7, Legends of the Superheroes, The Simpsons, and more. "People understood what Adam and I were doing. We weren't just playing characters so that you mildly sit there watching third party action. We reached out into the audience, and we'd pull those people in. We used to say that we'd put on our tights to put on the world," Ward said.

Today, Ward keeps in touch with several of his Batman co-stars. When the actor was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2020, former cast members Lee Meriwether, Sivi Aberg, Terry Moore, and Sharyn Wynters were there to show their support.

RELATED: For more celebrity news sent straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Ward is now an animal rights activist.

Burt Ward great dane rescue
Paul Harris/Getty Images

Though Ward kept acting after Batman, he changed course in the mid-'90s and began focusing on philanthropy. After adopting an abandoned Great Dane with his wife, Tracy Posner Ward, the couple founded a nonprofit charity outside of Los Angeles called Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions, which rescues and re-homes giant breed dogs in distress. "We've spent like $4 million dollars saving animals' lives," Ward told Studio 10, estimating that he and his wife have rescued over 15,000 dogs since founding their charity. "On Batman, we were saving the citizens of Gotham, we were saving lives! This is no different, except they're canines."

RELATED: See Hardy Boy Parker Stevenson Now at 69.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
Filed Under
 •  •  •  •