It seems that my understanding of the world of Batman has fallen somewhat out of date.It was disconcerting to see the notices that the character of Robin was about to be killed off, but a little research revealed how much I had missed by not reading the comic books lately.
It turns out that the origional Robin had grown up and moved on to become a new character named “Nightwing”. The fresh hoopla was about the son of Bruce Wayne, who enjoyed a story arch that took him from being a brat to a heroic demise. It turns out there were several versions of Robin, including a girl, who were killed off before that! I’m sorry I missed out, but I was actually a fan of the earlier side kick. Robin the Boy Wonder had joined Batman as a marketing ploy decades ago to attract a teenage audience and to give Batman someone to talk to. Circulation of the comics were boosted considerably and paved the way for other characters like Superboy and Spiderman.
The story of the Flying Graysons was dramatized nicely in Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever”. Before that “over the top” production, I had imagined a much different interpretation based on the circus movie, “Trapeze”, starring Burt Lancaster. Also influential were the accounts of the famous circus family , The Flying Wallendas. Their high wire act featured a seven person pyramid formation . In 1962, the family luck ran out when the pyramid collapsed and led to death and serious injury. It’s not a far leap from the Wallenda story to the fiction of Flying Graysons.
Burt Lancaster ( 1913 -1994) was a New York City boy born from Irish stock. He was handsome and athletic, noted as a basketball star who also excelled in gymnastics. By the age of 19, he joined his best friend to form an acrobatic duo who toured with the circus. An injury to his hand brought that chapter of his life to an end. After a stint as a singing waiter, Burt joined the USO as an entertainment performer for the troops in North Africa and Italy. Discharged from the service, Lancaster acted on Broadway just long enough to be discovered by Hollywood. His first movie paired him with the stunningly beautiful Ava Gardner in “The Killers.” This launched a long career that saw him nominated for four Oscars with one win.
Although his sports injury had deprived him of the career in the circus arena, his talents made him an outstanding actor who often performed his own stunts. His image as an all American boy was hugely popular in the biography picture about Native American Olympian,Jim Thorpe. Burt could swash buckle with the best of them in exciting tales of pirates, soldiers, and frontiersmen. Later in his career, Burt left behind the stunts to become one of the heavyweights of acting, often teamed up with the likes of Kirk Douglas, Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and George C. Scott.
Burt Lancaster has his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is most often remembered for the frothy beach tryst with Debra Kerr in the romantic scene from “From Here to Eternity”
Here are some links to other articles I wrote :
.John Wayne and Tarzan with the Hollywood Gang
The Cults of Jane Fonda and Pamela Anderson
A Forgotten Clint Eastwood Movie
Top 10 Books and the Famous Movies They Inspired
Legendary Liz Taylor and Richard Burton in Cleopatra
The Rise and Fall of a Hollywood Empire
Classic Movie Sex Goddesses
Growing Up in Show Business
Women of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Best Comedy TV Shows of the 1960’s
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment.