SDCC 2014: Batman ’66 Press Panel

David Kane ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

As the press entered the room, Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar greeted everyone warmly inviting them to sit and asking us questions about ourselves. Adam West had the room cackling as usual with jokes about his love life with Julie. The journalists played along complimenting the actors’ vitality at their age and generally enjoyed the presence of the enthusiastic thespians.

As photographers snapped shots, Adam said, “Five dollars a picture,” a favorite joke of his repeated at every public appearance with varying price. He tended to stray when answering, getting caught up in his own humor and generally ranting about how great he is. Julie would join in the fun, adding how much handsome he used to be. Burt would roll his eyes while laughing and try to get back on track with each question.

One man asked Burt Ward, “Were the stories in your autobiography exaggerated? I am so sorry that stuff happened to you.” Ward laughed and recounted a story about his very first day on set of Batman, the very first shot: he flew out of the Batmobile and pulled his pinky out of its socket. They took Burt to the hospital… after finishing the shot. That was Burt’s first clue as to how his experience would go on the set of the soon-to-be-world-famous television series. All of his anecdotes had us hooked as he described hanging upside down over a pit of real life stunt tigers for a deathtrap set by Newmar’s character while the director and camera crew were safely above him in a steel cage. He was miserable sometimes, but Adam was a great acting partner, and the two became best friends very quickly. Gags on the set were common, and Burt warmly remembered how they had an egg fight with the crew after filming the episode with Vincent Price as the villain Egghead.

One journalist asked what it was like working on the Green Hornet crossover back in the day, and Burt recounted an exciting story about living in the same apartment complex as Bruce Lee and sparring with him from time to time (Burt being a black belt and wanting a chance to fight Kato). The fight never happened onscreen because the two characters were allies, but Burt said the Bruce Lee was a nice man who was fun to spar with.

One journalist asked how Julie has stayed in such great shape over the years, having recently celebrated her eightieth birthday. Julie said that her history in ballet gifted her a discipline for exercise and went on to express her love of her character and how much fun she had playing it. Julie’s mood was similar to Adam’s, throwing in a joke every now and then while saying how much she genuinely loved her time on the show. She and Adam would share a humorous romantic recollection before Burt pulled them back on topic. “Get a hold of yourself, Adam,” he said at one point when West tried to playfully hush up a story about the actress Yvonne Craig who played Batgirl.

When asked about what they think of the legacy they have left behind with such iconic performances, Adam answered that it was an honor to have been part of such a phenomenon that inspired multiple generations for the last fifty years. Burt said that the kids loved it, the adults loved it, other countries loved it; the entire reaction to the show has left them with a sense of immense pride for their work. They thought they were just having fun and making something silly, but they had no idea of the impact it would have.

Someone asked what Adam thought of the transformation Batman has gone through since he played up the camp for the Caped Crusader. Adam said that the interpretation of the character is always different and that each has a right to be what the times call for in Batman. He played it silly, and Ben Affleck will play it dark, and that is just a reflection of the times we live in, and the myth of Bruce Wayne avenging his parents’ deaths is still there, and the theme of adversity over crime is still prevalent in the story no matter how dark or light the interpretation. Adam respects every other actors’ version of the character, but he still considers himself to be the “one true Batman.” They thanked the press for coming and posed for pictures before exiting.

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