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Interviews: Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar at 2010 Wizard World Chicago Comic Con

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CHICAGO – The Wizard World Chicago Comic Con was another huge success this past summer, gathering together comic and pop culture fans. One of the highlights of the event was the reunion of Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman) from the 1960s Batman TV show.

West and Ward did a special Q&A with attendees in a huge ball room (highlights below) and Julie Newmar sat down with HollywoodChicago.com for an in-depth interview of her long career. All sat for photographs with Joe Arce.

StarAdam West and Burt Ward of “Batman”

Adam West and Burt Ward will always be the legendary crime fighting duo, Batman and Robin. The original run of the ABC-TV series was from 1966-68, beginning with the unique two episode a week run. Batmania exploded in the U.S. during the time, reviving the Dark Knight for future incarnations. Ward is currently retired from acting, running a visual effects company. Adam West is experiencing a career revival, most notably as Mayor Adam West on “Family Guy.”

The following are highlights from their Chicago Comic Con Q&A Panel.

Mayor Batman: Adam West at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, August 21st, 2010
Mayor Batman: Adam West at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, August 21st, 2010
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Question: Burt, since Bruce Lee [martial arts movie star] was working at the same time on ‘The Green Hornet’ show at ABC-TV, did you know each other when you had that fight on the show?

Burt Ward: Bruce Lee and I lived in the same condominium complex in west Los Angeles, when I was first doing the Batman series, and we used to spar together, martial arts style. I used to go to dinner with Bruce and his wife Linda, so we were personal friends and we worked out together.

Batman and Green Hornet had the same executive producer, William Dozier, and when we had the fight on Batman we were doing a restrained version as the sparring we done before. The producers wanted to make sure that nobody had an advantage in the fight on-screen.

Question: What is the status of a possible DVD release of the entire series of Batman?

Adam West: They [the show owners] haven’t decided on how to divide up the spoils. Because I couldn’t wait for that release, go to AdamWest.com and get the new DVD called ‘Adam West Naked.’ Oh, did I get them. I reveal all. Everything you ever wanted to know about the 120 episodes of Batman.

Question: Who was your favorite villain to work with on the show?

West: Frank Gorshin he had such manic energy as The Riddler. Frank always made us laugh and we made him laugh. It helped us keep the set happy, funny and laughing. Because that’s what we did on Batman. Now you have your Dark Knight, and I will never knock those movies, but I am ‘The Bright Knight.’ [laughter]

Question: Adam, you mostly do voiceover work now. How is that compared to appearing before the cameras?

West: It’s terrific, there’s no make-up, no egos, no costuming, so it’s wonderful. You just go in and do it. BUT you better know what you’re doing, or get lost. It is very difficult work if you don’t know what you’re doing, and everyone wants to do voiceover, even big stars.

Question: Adam, did you and Burt hang out together outside the show during it’s popularity or was it too weird?

West: Burt and I didn’t walk down the street together very often. [laughter] We worked together too much, anyway. As soon as the first episode aired, we had no more anonymity.

Boy Wonder: Burt Ward at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, August 21st, 2010
Boy Wonder: Burt Ward at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, August 21st, 2010
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Ward: We did play tennis together occasionally. After the show was on the air, we played at a public court and suddenly there was a crowd saying ‘oh my god, Batman and Robin are playing tennis.’ [laughter]

Question: Burt, in an early 1990s episode of ‘The Simpsons’ called ‘Homer’s Barbershop Quartet, your name is briefly referenced as Homer is trying to draft a song. Did the writers come to you before they used the reference?

Ward: Adam and I have done The Simpsons in voiceover, but I’m not familiar with that other reference.

Question: Have you ever seen Batman dubbed in other languages, or have you had an experience seeing it in another country?

West: I was in a very nice hotel in China, and I turned on the TV to find Batman and Robin playing in China. [laughter] But there was something a little different. The Chinese actor voicing Robin spoke ‘way down here.’ [lowers voice] And Batman had a really high voice. I flipped out.

StarJulie Newmar, Catwoman on “Batman”

Julie Newmar, no doubt the best the of three personalities who played Catwoman during the Batman TV show era (Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether were the others), had a varied career even before donning the cat ears. She had her first major film role as one of the brides in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954), danced on Broadway in “Damn Yankees” and won a Tony Award for her Swedish vixen stage role in “The Marriage-Go-Round.” She was also “Rhonda the Robot” in the short lived TV show “My Living Doll” right before Batman.

Julie Newmar sat down with HollywoodChicago.com at the Comic Con.

Purrrr-fect Catwoman: Julie Newmar at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, August 21st, 2010
Purrrr-fect Catwoman: Julie Newmar at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, August 21st, 2010
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

HollywoodChicago.com: How did your early days as a classically trained dancer enrich your life up to now?

Julie Newmar: It is the basis of what I was able to do as an actress and a performer. It made the characterization of Catwoman come to life, for example.

HollywoodChicago.com: You worked with the legendary choreographer Michael Kidd in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. What kind of taskmaster was he when it came to those athletic numbers in the film?

Newmar: It was well known that if Michael Kidd asked you to do something difficult, you would be sure that he would be able to do it himself.

HollywoodChicago.com: Had you worked with Kidd on anything else besides Seven Brothers?

Newmar: He asked me to be in ‘The Band Wagon’ and I got to dance with Fred Astaire. I had to dance on bended knees. I’m 5 foot 11 and he was shorter, but it was an extraordinary experience.

HollywoodChicago.com: Looking back at your days in television during the 1960s, what was your connection that got you the sitcom ‘My Living Doll’?

Newmar: It was James Aubrey, the President of CBS, who saw me on Broadway, and immediately cast me as this mechanical robot doll. It has an IQ of 180 and would fulfill any man’s prayer, or something of that nature. [laughs] Actually it was a great gift to me, because it did challenge me. For example, I had to play the piano and learn to shoot pool.

HollywoodChicago.com: Since there were an unprecedented three women playing Catwoman on Batman, what do you think you brought to the role that the other two didn’t?

Newmar: Anyone and everyone can play Catwoman, because it’s a delicious part for a female. It’s got the good and bad qualities of being a woman, and there is so much you can do with it. It was so much fun as well, it was insouciant.

HollywoodChicago.com: Finally, for what work do you best want to be remembered for, or what work gave you the most satisfaction in your life, either in performance or otherwise?

Newmar: It’s always what I’m doing now, and I’m working on a book called ‘The Conscious Catwoman,’ which explains life on earth. It’s a little bit tongue-in-cheek, a how-to book. I called it the last how-to book. [laughs]

The next Wizard World Chicago Comic Con is scheduled for August 11-14th, 2011.
Click here for details.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2010 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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