Robin got robbed on merchandise

By: H&I Staff     Posted: July 24, 2023, 9:38AM    Tags: Burt Ward, Robin, Batman

In the comics, Robin is pretty well taken-care-of financially. Sure, Dick Grayson is horrendously orphaned, but he's taken in by billionaire Bruce Wayne. Even if Wayne splits his fortune between all of his proteges, three Robins, a few Batgirls, and his son Damien, Dick Grayson would still stand to inherit a fortune. Plus, in some continuities, Dick Grayson is the heir to Alfred Pennyworth's estate; Batman's loyal butler was paid a handsome salary and owned a ton of Wayne Enterprise stocks. Robin was loaded.

By contrast, Burt Ward, the man who played Robin on TV, made about $450 a week. "Even the hairdresser got paid more than I did," Ward told The Napa Valley Register in 1978.

"The producers made $3 million," said Ward. "But even that wasn't the tip of the iceberg. The big money on that show was in the merchandising, selling of items with the Batman and Robin names on them."

"I know that the merchandising from Batman was worth around three and one-half billion dollars. Adam [West, Batman] and I were supposed to get five percent of the merchandising income, but we never saw a penny."

By then, Batman hadn't had a new episode in ten years. That was about the same length of time since Ward had worked in Tinsel Town. After Batman, "Hollywood closed its doors to me," said Ward. Even when he was getting paid $600 a week during the show's third and final season, Ward was not making enough money to live off of for a decade. Instead, the former Boy Wonder turned to paid appearances. Burt Ward traveled the country doing autograph signings at auto dealerships, supermarkets and department stores. By his estimate, more than half of Ward's time was spent traveling between gigs like these, where there was more opportunity for pay than in the world of acting.

In fact, this autograph circuit proved so successful that Burt Ward started Entertainment Management Corp., a business venture which managed stars' merchandising and personal appearance tours. Ward started with his aim set on three stars in particular: "Farrah [Fawcett] already has a deal, and [John] Travolta wasn't interested. But [Henry] Winkler okayed it. And I'm doing very well for him, I think. I've gotten him deals in sweatshirts, t-shirts, posters. He's going to make a lot of money."

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Robin even represented Luke Skywalker. "I just got Mark Hamill two very lucrative dates doing auto shows," said Ward.

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