Jun 17, 2018

Batman and the Boy Wonder

The Batman tv series (1966-68), like The Adventures of Superman and  The Green Hornet (1966-67) was based on a long-standing comic book series.  But only loosely. The characters were the same -- superhero with no superpowers Batman/Bruce Wayne (Adam West), his teen sidekick Robin/Dick Grayson (Burt Ward), butler Alfred, police chief Gordon, even some of the villains -- Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Louie the Lilac (played by comedy legend Milton Berle). But they infused their characters with a "gee-gosh" earnestness that the hippie generation found hilarious.

Playing along, the producers came up with crazier and crazier villains, as famous actors lined up for guest villain spots -- Cliff Robertson as "Shame," Vincent Price as "Egghead," Roddy McDowell as "Bookworm," William Smith as "Adonis."  Boxer Jerry Quarry played a boxer.

And the predicaments that the Dynamic Duo got into during their weekly cliffhangers became more and more ludicrous.  But what gay kid noticed, or cared?  They were tied up and struggling, muscles were straining, and you had to wait a whole 24 hours to see what clever -- or exceptionally lucky -- strategy they would use to escape.

Sometimes Robin was tied up alone, and Batman had to rush to the rescue, providing a "my hero" moment and the only buddy-bonding.  Otherwise Dick and Bruce were aggressively portrayed as adopted father and son, not as boyfriends, as they had been in the original comic stories (why, precisely, do they sleep in the same bed in a 100-room mansion, or need a cold shower afterwards)?

But what gay kid was paying attention?  Both Adam West and Burt Ward were pleasantly muscular.

And both Burt Ward and Frank Gorshin, who played the Riddler, had extra advantages -- jaw-droppingly obvious even to kids -- that rivaled the enormity of Rupert Grint, 30 years later.  After the first season, complaints from the Catholic League of Decency forced them to tape it down.

Burt's  autobiography, Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights, describes his endowment in intimate detail, and it's also discussed in the Batman biopic starring Jason Marsden, but gay men who had grown up with him were already quite aware.  They had missed the plot details of any number of episodes because it took up the entire tv screen.

See also: Lane's Celebrity Date


  1. I can't figure out how that bulge got past the censors.

    1. People pretended not to notice. I know in film at least, so long as it was covered (outside of the locker room, baths, and swimming), you were golden.

      Actually, Gordon Scott's loincloth went a little too high for a few frames; MGM kept it in, not planning for 21st century technology.

      So yeah, you might get away with a few things in film. Television was stricter, and animation stricter still (because all the exceptions were concessions to reality, and Fleischer's Law still applies).

      I don't think TV would allow falling out of shorts or a loincloth or kilt, it nude swimming, though nude male swimming was in G-rated movies (e.g. Planet of the Apes, Pollyanna) back then, but it would still allow bulges, so long as they were genuine and not stuffing.

  2. Quite a number of prominent endowments made regular appearances during the 50's & 60's. Michael Landon, Laramie's John Smith and Scott Brady from Shotgun Slade were the most obvious. I assume the rushed shooting schedules made it difficult to tuck it every time because they had to notice.

  3. There was a revival comic of 60s Batman a while back. Though they did give the Joker a 60s Harley. Not even a hint of bisexuality in her, though.

  4. Something I've always wondered, if there is the slightest suggestion of a pecker it's always slung left. Why is that?

    1. I've seen them bulging to the right, but most of the time it's to the left. Maybe if you're right-handed, it's the most natural place for you to put it.

    2. The joke is that it's pushed that way when you jerk off.

      Personally I think that pants make you choose one side in a way that, say, a kilt won't. (And of course, Speedos or a loincloth , choosing a side exposes it, defeating the whole point.) And whatever side you hold it with, you push to the opposite side.

      And yes, tailors will ask which side your bulge goes.


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