Riddle me this, Batman. What has orange hair, a Harvard degree, and a decades-long career in late-night TV?
Is it Jay Leno in a Lucy wig lying about his education? You'll never rescue the Boy Wonder's costume now, Batman! Here's a hint: His name rhymes with "Shmonan Shmo'Brien." Give up? Ha! Bested again! The Riddler foils the Bat once more!
The answer is... Conan O'Brien!
In reality, it wasn't the Riddler but Conan O'Brien who once stole Burt Ward's Robin costume at a Harvard event. The former younger half of the Dynamic Duo was invited by the prestigious university to address a lecture hall filled with about 250 students. It turned out to be the perfect setting for the hilarious heist of the century.
O'Brien detailed the caped caper in a 1998 interview with Playboy magazine:
"We went dressed as security guards," said O'Brien. "I said, 'Mr. Ward, I've been sent by the dean to safeguard the costume.'
"As if it were the Shroud of Turin. But the guy is humorless. 'Yes, very good. That costume is very valuable,' he says."
Conan was an undergraduate student and on the editorial staff of the school's Harvard Lampoon. He and his Lampoon associates planned out the stickup to a T, and cut the lights as Ward's speech reached its climax.
Then-freshman Jess Bravin, now of the Wall Street Journal, detailed the next steps in the scheme:
"They burst into the lecture Burt was giving and a huge fat guy dressed as the Penguin said in a heavy Boston accent, 'Mister Ward, when is a security guard not a security guard?'
"Then the student security guards, who I had thought were somewhat suspicious, grabbed the mannequin with Burt's costume and ran out into the hallway."
O'Brien and his compatriots held hostage negotiations throughout the next few days. They reached an agreement, but not before having some villainous fun at Ward's expense.
"We proceeded to torment Burt Ward for hours on the phone, saying, 'This is the Joker, hee-hee-hee. I've got your costume.'"
To his credit, Ward played along.
When asked how Burt Ward responded to the high jinks, O'Brien said the aging star's response was "Robin-like. He said, 'Return it, or you will feel my wrath!.'"
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