Even with the most formative memories, many people can't always tell that they'll remember a moment for the rest of their lives when they're actually experiencing it. Lucky for him, Adam West knew that the experience of making Batman was sure to change his life and luckily for us, he was more than willing to tell us all about it.
By the time Adam West began testing opposite potential Robins during the beginning of Batman, he knew that he had something special. In his autobiography Back To The Batcave, when presented with the opportunity to play the titular role, Adam recalled asking himself, "How many people get the chance to play a hero that is part of our cultural heritage, that influenced two generations of American readers?"
Likewise, Bill Dozier, creator of the series, was also confident in West's ability to play Batman. But once the decision was made and West was on board, there was the pressing question of who would play the Boy Wonder who fought alongside the caped crusader, whose childlike innocence and fanciful determination would compliment West's Batman?
According to West's autobiography, there were many factors at play for the crew to determine who would make the best Robin. He wrote, "The casting of Robin was obviously very important to us since he had to have the build and energy of a fifteen-year-old, but with adult sensibilities and wit to sell the character."
When West arrived on the soundstage, he was introduced to Bert "Sparky" Gervais Jr. Gervis Jr. had previous experience touring in his father's show Rhapsody on Ice before studying acting at UCLA and the University of California at Santa Barbara. He would also eventually change his name to Burt Ward.
Adam recounted that Burt had gotten the audition because of his previous work selling real estate. After selling a home to Fox producer Saul David, Gervis had asked him for assistance in getting any roles as an extra. David told him that they were currently searching for an actor to portray Robin in the new Batman series. Ward, with the resolve and tenacity that would make him perfect for the Boy Wonder, actually showed up at the studio and requested to see whoever was casting for Batman. Once seen, a screen test was arranged for Ward to play against West.
West recalled that the scene involved a bit of investigation between the dynamic duo, examining The Penguin's umbrella for any potential leads. While the scene was relatively short, West recalled the line that convinced him that Ward would be perfect for the role: "Holy popcorn, Batman!"
West recalled, "As Burt said that last line, he slammed his fist into his palm with punishing enthusiasm. As he did, I knew Batman had a Robin. The chemistry was right, Burt had nailed the character, and his Robin would be able to show all the youthful exuberance my Batman wouldn't be able to."
Even more importantly than West's confidence in Gervis, the screen test gave ABC confidence in the show. West said, "On the strength of it they ordered thirteen weeks of the show, two nights a week."
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