Burt Ward is an American actor and activist, best known for playing ‘Robin’ in the hit series ‘Batman,’ in the 1960s. Burt was born into an upper-middle-class family, in Los Angeles, California, to Bert John Gervis Sr. and Marjorie Ward. His father worked in the real-estate sector, while his mother was a homemaker. Growing up, Burt loved ice skating. He wished to build a career in the sport and had no intention whatsoever to make a career in the world of acting. However, following his academic life, he followed in his father’s footsteps and began working in the real-estate sector. His father was an influential man, and owing to him, Burt made a few connections in Hollywood. He made his TV debut with the second-lead role of ‘Robin’ in the 1966 series ‘Batman.’ The series was a huge hit and became a national phenomenon. He reprised his role in many animated series, live-action films, and series. However, following ‘Batman,’ he struggled to find regular acting work and mostly appeared in key roles in TV films such as ‘Hot Under the Collar’ and ‘Kill Crazy.’
Childhood & Early Life
Burt Ward was born Bert John Gervis Jr., on July 6, 1945, in Los Angeles, California, to Bert John Gervis Sr. and Marjorie Ward. His father was a successful real-estate agent, who also owned a traveling ice-show called ‘Rhapsody on Ice.’ His mother was a homemaker.
Burt had been ice skating ever since he began walking. When he was just 2 years old, he was listed in a local magazine as a professional ice-skater. He had also learned martial arts and athletics at an early age. Little did he know that these traits would become decisive in him earning his breakthrough TV role.
As a teenager, Burt played many sports. He was proficient in martial arts, wrestling, and tennis. He was also surprisingly good in chess and played as “first board” for his school, the ‘Beverly Hills High School.’ He also excelled in academics and finished among the top 3 percent in the math and science test at ‘UCLA.’
He was also the world’s fastest reader at one point. He clocked 30,000 words per minute. He received huge media coverage and was famously known as the “boy wonder.”
In addition to his intellectual and physical capabilities, he also exhibited a natural inclination toward business. With his father’s help, he set up his own real-estate agency as a teenager and ran it successfully.
Around the same time, he met a popular Hollywood producer named Saul David, who introduced him to a Hollywood agent. Apparently, Burt had developed a keen interest in acting around that time. He did not have prior experience and did not take any training for the same.
However, his martial arts skills and athletic abilities helped him earn the role of ‘Robin,’ his debut on-screen role.
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He was 19 years old when he auditioned for the role of ‘Robin,’ ‘Batman’s sidekick, in the superhero series ‘Batman.’ His first interview was set up in the ‘20th Century Fox’ office. His lack of experience in acting, however, became a hurdle. However, that did not stop him from earning the role.
Hollywood star Adam West played the main lead of ‘Batman.’ While Adam had a stunt double on sets, Burt mostly performed his own stunts. The series premiered in 1966 and became an immediate hit. Despite the fact that Burt was being paid much lower, doing his own stunts helped him earn a few more dollars.
The series was hugely popular with the masses and was described by many as the “most popular American television series from the mid-1960s.” It was later described by many critics as one of the greatest series of all time. The series ran for three seasons, covering 120 episodes. It was also re-telecast several times.
Although the universal success of the series benefitted Adam West greatly, it should have done the same for Burt’s career. However, he found it difficult to find good acting roles once ‘Batman’ was over. Most roles he was offered were reprisals of the role of ‘Robin.’
In 1967, he appeared in five episodes of the game show ‘The Hollywood Squares.’
Toward the late 1970s, he played the voice role of ‘Robin’ in the animated series ‘The New Adventures of Batman.’ Two years later, he reprised the role in the live-action TV special titled ‘Legends of the Superheroes.’
He then reprised his role in many live-action/animated adaptations of the comic-book character ‘Robin.’
In the absence of good feature-film roles, he turned to doing TV films. However, prior to that, he had played the second-lead role in the 1966 film ‘Batman,’ which was an adaptation of the TV series of the same name. The film was not as successful as the series and received mostly above-average reviews. It received a lukewarm response at the box office.
Despite a dream beginning to his career, he resorted to playing small/supporting roles in TV films such as ‘Kill Crazy’, ‘Virgin High,’ and ‘The Dwelling.’
However, his legacy as ‘Robin’ was always remembered. He appeared in many reunions of the cast and crew of the original ‘Batman’ series. Additionally, he has also remained life-long friends with Adam West, his co-star from the series.
In 1985, ‘DC’ honored Burt with a place on their prestigious list of ‘Fifty Who Made DC Great,’ in the company’s 50th anniversary publication.
In 1995, he released an autobiography titled ‘Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights,’ in which he wrote down his experience of working in ‘Batman.’
Burt is also known for his charity work. Along with his wife, he runs a charity named ‘Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions,’ which rescues dogs, particularly of bigger breeds such as the Great Dane.
He was associated with the visual effects departments of ‘Out of Time,’ ‘Bulletproof Monk,’ ‘Vampires: Los Muertos,’ and ‘What's the Worst That Could Happen?’
Family & Personal Life
He changed his screen name to “Burt Ward,” as it was easier to write and pronounce than his birth name, “Bert John Gervis Jr.”
He married Bonney Lindsey in 1965. The couple divorced in 1967. He married Kathy Kersh and Mariana Torchia in 1967 and 1985, respectively. Both these marriages ended in divorce.
He finally married Tracy Posner in 1990, and the couple has been together ever since. He has one daughter from Tracy. He has another daughter, Lisa Ann, from his first wife, Bonney.