Friday, 16 January 2015

Burt Ward And Rhapsody On Ice


Many moons before achieving fame portraying wonder boy Robin, the trusty sidekick to Adam West in the 1960's Batman TV series and film, Burt Ward achieved another claim to fame. At age two, he was named 'the world's youngest professional ice skater' by As Strange As It Seems magazine.

Born Bert John Gervis Jr. in 1945 in Los Angeles, California, the man who would later be known as Burt Ward was the son of Bert Gervis Sr., who was not only in real estate sales but the owner of a travelling ice show called Rhapsody On Ice. Rhapsody On Ice was one of many skating tours operational during that golden era of figure skating in the forties that saw productions like Ice Capades, Ice Follies and Sonja Henie's productions take center stage. The tour featured such stars as Belita and according to an advertisement from the June 19 of the Eugene Register, was "a complete revue - with eleven champion skaters" including the legendary Mabel Fairbanks, who was at one point a coach to the fabulous, fabulous Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Tiffany Chin, Kristi Yamaguchi and Scott Hamilton among countless others.

Now how did a two year old become 'the world's youngest professional ice skater'? Much as you might expect. Being the son of the tour's owner, he was offered the opportunity to perform in the tour after being featured in the Hollywood Citizen-News newspaper for his adeptness on the ice at such a startlingly young age. In a 2012 interview with Mark Wyckoff of the Ventura County Star, Ward mused of his stint as a skater: "I couldn't see the people in the audience but I could hear the cheering." Ward struck gold when cast as Robin in 1966. Although he ultimately found his success as an actor and not a skater, Ward did prove to take all things athletic. He wrestled, studied karate and excelled in golf and track and field as a teenager.

Where is the 'the world's youngest professional ice skater' and Batman star today? Ward and his wife Tracy Posner Ward founded a charitable organization called Gentle Giants Rescue And Adoption, Inc. that rescues and finds homes for larger breeds of dogs such as Great Danes, Mastiffs and Greyhounds. The Ward's have found homes for over 14,500 large breed dogs and are even in the dog food business. One has to wonder what Adam West, who has achieved fame with a whole new generation of television fans for his role as Mayor Adam West on Family Guy would have to say about his sidekick Robin's short lived skating career?


Well played, Mayor West, well played!

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