ANDY FISH

ANDY FISH is a comic book artist


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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Famous People From the Woo - A Pair of Lewis'

Lewis Wilson as The Batman (1943) Columbia
There are more than a few celebrities who have had ties to the Big Woo over the years.   Not including just stopping by for an appearance at the Auditorium which was a regular stop for many touring shows there are a few who spent a bit more time here.

Tony Randall of the Odd Couple TV Series told a story at the Lyceum Theater in New York about his days as a broadcaster at WTAG in downtown Worcester.

I was watching an Andy Hardy film on TCM the other night and was curious how old Lewis Stone was when he played the dad (truthfully I'm not a fan of Mickey Rooney or the Andy Hardy films but once you start watching you can't stop) so I looked him up on IMDB-- he was 60 to Mickey Rooney's 18 year old Andy but more importantly I discovered Stone was born right  here in the Worcester Metropolis.  Stone played Judge Hardy in 14 films and had a long and distinguished career in films.

Fellow comic book fans will be interested to note that Lewis Wilson attended Worcester Academy and graduated in the class of '39.  Wilson is the father of Marc Wilson who is the current producer of the James Bond films, but possibly even more importantly he was the first actor to play Batman way back in 1943.

Wilson was only 23 and the role of Batman lasted little more than a month but he spent the rest of his life being asked about it-- something he didn't appreciate.  It was just a gig to him and yet we fanboys plagued him right up until his death in 2000.

It's a shame he didn't embrace the celebrity-- yes I'm sure he wanted to be considered a serious actor and resented his connection to a small salary role that he might have felt was akin to dressing up in a chicken suit and selling Buffalo Wings at Chili's-- never recognizing his place in both film and comic book history.

There were attempts to contact him back in 1966 when the Batman TV series created a sensation and anything Batman-related became news.  At only 46 years old Wilson was only a few years older than Adam West who was then playing the role, but he wanted nothing to do with the interviewers interested in hearing his experiences as the screen's first Caped Crusader.  Ditto 1989 when the Burton Blockbuster bat-film hit screens, Wilson wasn't interested in talking about Batman.