‘Zowie!’ Interviews: Heroes

“Zowie!” presents Mark Voger’s interviews with Adam West (above), Burt Ward, Yvonne Craig, Van Williams and others.

Following are excerpts from “Zowie! The TV Superhero Craze in ’60s Pop Culture” by Mark Voger ($43.95, TwoMorrows Publishing, ships July 31).

West (shown at right in 1994) was constantly reminded that the public equated him with Batman. 1994 photo by Kathy Voglesong

Adam West

On the moment West realized he had become irreversibly famous: “It was when I got home from the studio on the night ‘Batman’ was scheduled to go on the air. I stopped at a market in Malibu, where I lived at the time, to grab a steak and a six-pack of beer for dinner. I was in a hurry and overworked. And I heard, at the check out, ‘Come on! Hurry up! We’ve gotta get home to watch “Batman”! Faster!’ And I thought, uh-oh, this could be the start of something.”

On the influence of Batman comics he read as a child: “What I called on there was not so much the comic book, literally, but the sense memories of having read it and what it did to me as a kid. How it affected me, to call that back. To this day, when I pick up a Batman comic book — not so much the new graphic magazines that are so Gothic, macabre and sinister and beautifully drawn; I’m not knocking them — but when I pick up, you know, a regular Batman comic book, I immediately flash back. I go back to that. It never fails.”

Robin the Boy Wonder was the first role that Burt Ward (shown at right in 1992) sought. 1992 photo by Kathy Voglesong

Burt Ward

Ward on being cast as Robin: “I was studying acting, but I hadn’t done anything before. I was going to UCLA and selling real estate on the weekends. I was one of the youngest in California to get a real estate license. And I sold a house to a producer who sent me to an agent who sent me out for the part. It was the first thing I ever tried out for.”

On the height differential  between he and certain cast members: “Adam is 6-foot-4, plus his three-inch heels made him 6-foot-7. I’m only 5-foot-9, but they cut my heels off, so I’m standing at 5-foot 9 by somebody who is 6-foot-7 with heels. Alan Napier was a gigantic man, 6-foot-9. Julie Newmar is 6-foot-3, and she wore four-inch heels that made her 6-foot-7. So these are all, like, basketball players.”

Batgirl (Yvonne Craig) was added to the Batman cast in the third and final season of “Batman.”

Yvonne Craig

Craig on doing her own stunts as Batgirl: “Originally when they hired me, they were not going to let me do my own stunts. But I said, ‘Look, it’s just choreography. And I can understand you not wanting the guys (West and Ward) to do their own stunts, because people are honestly taking punches at them. But nobody ever tries to punch Batgirl.’ They would try to grab me, and I just spun out of their way or slipped under their arms. So I wasn’t really in any kind of physical danger of having my nose where my ear was.”

As a child in Texas, Van Williams listened to “The Green Hornet” radio show.

Van Williams

Williams on why “The Green Hornet” was so shortlived: “This is something I complained about when I first read the script. I said, ‘You’re really trying to get an awful lot into a half-hour, when the show should be an hour.’ Actually, that 30 minutes — when you remove the commercials — turns out to be about 26 minutes. That wasn’t enough. They had all of this stuff they wanted to show: the gas gun, the stun gun, the car, the two guys dressed up in the costumes, a lot of fight scenes. They had to establish a crime; then get (Hornet alter ego) Britt Reid involved in the crime; and then get the Green Hornet and Kato to solve the crime. So there wasn’t any time left over for romance, or character development of any kind. I think I had, as Britt Reid, a couple of superfluous dates that didn’t mean anything. I just had to have somebody with me at a party or something who was involved in setting up the crimes.

“I think they made a major mistake. We were not more than four or five shows into it when (executive producer) Bill Dozier understood, and he realized that he had made that mistake too.”

Pre-order at TwoMorrows | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Previews World
Read 13th Dimension’s preview HERE