Burt Ward in The Graduate?

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Bob Furmanek
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Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by Bob Furmanek » Sun Jan 18, 2015 3:24 pm

Here's the timeline and relevant quotes in Variety:

March 25, 1966: "Graduate" will be "adult," director Mike Nichols forewarns. After all, the romance involves a 19-year-old boy with a 40-year-old femme.

November 10, 1966: Lawrence Turman has signed Lynn Stalmaster to cast "The Graduate," producer's first Embassy release, which Mike Nichols will direct.

January 18, 1967: Producer Lawrence Turman and director Mike Nichols have disclosed that they're currently conducting a "nationwide talent search" for the title role in Embassy's "The Graduate."

February 13, 1967: Larry Turman and Mike Nichols winged to N.Y. to land legit thesps for "The Graduate."

February 15, 1967: Katharine Ross has been cast in "The Graduate," Lawrence Turman-Mike Nichols production for Joseph E. Levine's Embassy Pictures. Previously cast was Dustin Hoffman. Buck Henry and Nichols scripted Charles Webb's novel.


At the time, Dustin Hoffman had been making quite a name for himself on the off-Broadway circuit in New York. On May 21, 1966, he won the Obie award for his performance in "Journey of the Fifth Horse" at the American Place Theatre. On October 16, 1966, he opened in the two-act comedy play "Eh?" at Circle in the Square. Hoffman drew critical praise for the play and won a Theatre World Award and a Drama Desk Award.

By comparison, Burt was finishing up the second season at the time of casting. On February 16,1967 he was signed to appear in the play "Harold" at the Pheasant Run Playhouse in St. Charles, ILL on May 9. It was his first stage appearance.

There is no mention in Variety whatsoever of Burt testing or being considered for the part. Do you think the producers seriously considered him?

Please don't take offense but considering his lack of acting experience combined with the controversial film and required thespian chops to pull it off, I don't think so.

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Dr. Shimel
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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by Dr. Shimel » Sun Jan 18, 2015 3:40 pm

Not to mention he had been on a non-stop break-neck pace with the show over the previous 15 months, then got married to Kathy Kersh in late February 1967. I doubt if he had the interest or energy, and that even assumes he was ever under consideration.

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Bob Furmanek
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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by Bob Furmanek » Sun Jan 18, 2015 4:05 pm

And he had a new baby daughter.

I forgot to mention, THE GRADUATE began filming on April 24, 1967. If Burt was considered, that was after the second season had wrapped and the producers were casting the film before Burt signed for the play in Illinois...

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epaddon
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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by epaddon » Sun Jan 18, 2015 4:11 pm

Bob, don't worry, I don't think any of us have reason to take offense. "The truth shall set you free" is the best adage for these things.

And in a similar vein, Adam talks about being offered James Bond by Cubby Broccoli and turning it down, saying Bond should be English. The thing is, Robert Wagner tells a similar story in relation to himself! But no Bond scholar, of which there are many, has ever found any evidence to substantiate this either. The only American who is known to come close to being Bond was John Gavin (Janet Leigh's boyfriend in "Psycho") who was signed originally for "Diamonds Are Forever" and then when Sean Connery was lured back for one more go-round, was paid off.

And regarding the previous Bond film, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" where Australian George Lazenby replaced Connery, the definitive study of the making of this film shoots down the Adam West offer this way:

"American actor Adam West claimed he was offered the role by Cubby Broccoli, though there is no record of any interest from [co-producer Harry] Saltzman, [direct Peter] Hunt or United Artists in Batman becoming James Bond."

It's a polite way of saying in effect the story is likely false.

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Bob Furmanek
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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by Bob Furmanek » Sun Jan 18, 2015 4:22 pm

Memory can play tricks on you.

So far as the Bond tale and The Graduate, who knows? Maybe their respective agents at the time made an inquiry, reported their overture to their client and even though it went no further than a phone call or letter, both Adam and Burt believe it to be true?

At the time of casting for the Bond film. Adam was doing The Girl Who Knew Too Much. If he had been offered the part, I believe he would have taken it.

The same with Burt on The Graduate. Batman was on life support by late 1966. I bet Burt would have jumped at the chance to do such a controversial film.

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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by Tom1980 » Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:55 am

epaddon wrote:Adam talks about being offered James Bond by Cubby Broccoli and turning it down, saying Bond should be English. The thing is, Robert Wagner tells a similar story in relation to himself!
I wonder when this story first came about. Mentioning Adam and Robert, they both worked together on an episode of Hart to Hart.

Unlike Batman where no-one ever got killed, Hart to Hart was an absolute death trap.

As I recall in the episode, Adam gave a great performance when he breaks down at the news that his wife had been murdered. It was sad to think roles may have been lost due to Batman typecasting when there were little opportunities in that series to show any range of emotions.

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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by WayneGrayson » Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:44 pm

I always thought the series and the characters were too unfair for West and Ward's careers. One thing I heard about Ward's Graduate was that he snapped up the role and was not permitted by Batman producers to take the film - playing Benjamin Braddock would dilute the audience's image of him as Robin, which was SO important to maintain.

WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

They so much said that The Graduate would prevent Ward from being typecast as Robin, which would be a bad thing for the producers. IF this is true, then HOLY HABEUS CORPUS - IT'S A LAWSUIT!

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Scott Sebring
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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by Scott Sebring » Mon Jan 19, 2015 2:49 pm

Bob Furmanek wrote:So far as the Bond tale and The Graduate, who knows? Maybe their respective agents at the time made an inquiry, reported their overture to their client and even though it went no further than a phone call or letter, both Adam and Burt believe it to be true?
I've been around the fringes of this industry enough to know there's way more things that get thrown around, offered, discussed before it ever make the contracts, formal talks, papers like Variety or even a returned letter or call in the end. Not everything is documented. And there are more non-disclosure agreements signed than anything that actually gets made.

Not to turn this into a conversation about me but only as an example of such practices; I worked on several albums during the 90's as a recording engineer for quite a few big artists including Kenny Loggins, the Go Gos and No Doubt and never credited anywhere for that work. I was suppose to work on the third album by Slaughter a few days before the Northridge earthquake hit out here and the whole band moved their operations to Nevada. There's nothing documented there that I was in line and suppose to do this. Does that mean I didn't work on them? Does that mean I was lying? Does that mean I wasn't there? Of course not. But that's life in the entertainment world. Even for the little guy as well as the big ones. I've seen both.

Food for thought...

Ward may have been considered for a moment but obviously not enough for anybody to fight for it enough for that to get noticed or write about it in the press. In the end, they went with the other guy who did real well.
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chrisbcritter
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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by chrisbcritter » Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:19 pm

I searched the Chicago Tribune's archives about the play Burt was in at the Pheasant Run (note spelling) Playhouse and there's not a lot of info, let alone a review, but here's what I found so far:
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"To the medical eye, such childish claptrap means only one thing, young man: You need some sleep."

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epaddon
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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by epaddon » Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:38 pm

Thanks for finding that! A dinner playhouse thing out in the suburbs I doubt is the kind of thing the Tribune would have sent a critic to cover so its not surprising there's no review. Maybe some of the local suburban papers covered it in more detail.

June Havoc, who was in the play that followed Burt's was the sister of Gypsy Rose Lee, who had a cameo in the Sandman/Catwoman episode.

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Bob Furmanek
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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by Bob Furmanek » Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:33 am

And I think June Havoc owned the Malibu Beach apartment that Adam rented when he moved to LA.

Thanks for those ads from Burt's debut stage appearance. Can you please add them to this thread as well?

http://66batman.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3562

HELLOLARRY
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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by HELLOLARRY » Wed Jan 21, 2015 9:47 pm

I've always politely 'doubted' that Burt Ward was up for the Graduate as the only person I've ever heard make that claim was Burt himself; in print and on a radio interview I have from the mid-90s (talking about the 'My Life in Tights' book).

The West as Bond claim was mentioned by Cubby Broccoli's widow on one of the Bond documentaries. I don't think anything was signed but he was considered according to her. Whether an actual conversation occured I don't know. I think it was for Diamonds Are Forever which is a shame as it would have reunited him with Jill St. John. I don't think the idea of Adam West as Bond is that far fetched. As far as the accent goes, we've seen so many examples where an accent can be changed or coached so I don't know how much validity there is in that. Plus when you see (arguably starting with Diamonds Are Forever) how tongue and cheek the Bond series became with the Roger Moore era, West would have been great. I can't imagine, given his fear of being typecast which has been well documented, that he would have turned it down if there was a serious offer on the table or made the statement that HE felt Bond should be British.

The things I always felt he missed out on were the Airplane and Naked Gun (Police Squad) movies and TV show. The style of those films which was considered to be so fresh and different was already done 15 years earlier by Adam West on Batman. He would have been perfect in those roles.

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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by AndyFish » Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:57 am

There is a lot of stuff that is put forth over and over again that I take with a grain of salt. When I was researching a book about Lewis Wilson (the first Batman) I was able to interview Diana Broccoli who was his wife before she married Cubby, and it's Wilson's son who is the current Bond producer. Both of them told me that Adam was seriously considered but so were a lot of people in that panic to replace George Lazenby who had slighted the Bond producer's in some interview and therefore was being replaced despite decent box office for On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Could Adam have done it? Probably, but I'm not sure he would have owned the role the way his friend Roger Moore did, albeit a completely different Bond than Connery's.

Burt on the Graduate? I think he was a natural actor-- he does a great job in the series and you'd never know it's his first gig, but I would not in a million years think Mike Nichols was going to place the then current star of a comedy series in a serious melodrama, and I don't think he had the chops of a Dustin Hoffman, sorry Burt.

A few months before his death I had drinks with Leslie Nielson and we talked FORBIDDEN PLANET-- he honestly welled up with tears and told me he was so happy to talk about something other than The Police Squad series. As much as he enjoyed his revived career as a comedian he missed the days of being a serious actor. I think Adam and Burt are doing what they want and things have worked out for the best for them.

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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by HELLOLARRY » Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:27 am

That's a nice story Andy. Thanks for sharing. Aside from a comedic turn on MASH that comes to mind (I'm sure there are others) Leslie did a lot of dramatic shows (Mod Squad, Streets of San Francisco) which were very good.

I know they considered Burt Reynolds among others as a Bond replacement too. As you noted, they were scrambling.

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epaddon
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Re: Burt Ward in The Graduate?

Post by epaddon » Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:33 am

One minor nitpick, it's Dana not Diana Broccoli.

"Diamonds Are Forever" is certainly the only film where Adam's name could have come up given how wide open things were when Lazenby walked away (on the foolish advice of a friend who convinced him that Bond was too "establishment" a role to be tied to) and the fact that in the end they did sign an American, John Gavin, for the role until they managed to lure Connery back for one last go-round (and in the end Connery was much better in DAF than he'd been in YOLT where his boredom with the part screams in every scene he's in).

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