Batman’s bodyguard: Toledoan worked for TV Batman Adam WestWritten by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Myron St. John harbors a secret: he once ensured the safety and security of the Caped Crusader himself, Adam West. After a chance encounter with the actor while working at a 1975 car show in Grand Rapids, Mich., St. John won the coveted job of watching Batman’s back.
“It was on a Saturday,” said St. John said, a Toledo native. “And I noticed that there was nobody onstage with Adam, and he kept standing up every couple minutes, looking around left and right, and there were lines of people to see him. I’m watching this for a few minutes and, I don’t know why, but I just got the feeling that he needed something and there was nobody from the show there. I came over and I hopped the line and I walked onstage and said, ‘Excuse me, Mr. West. Is there anything I can help you with?’ He leaned over and he goes, ‘Yes, I’ve really got to use the bathroom.’ I said, ‘OK, let me take care of this.
“So, I grabbed a microphone and I said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Batman has just received a call from Commissioner Gordon, and he’s got to take it. He’ll be back in 15 minutes. Don’t go away.’ He went offstage, and he came out and he goes, ‘Oh, that was great. Thanks so much.’ We started talking and he said, ‘I owe you. Let me take you to dinner tonight.’ I said, ‘Well, OK,’ because we were all staying in the same hotel. So, that night, we were talking, and he said, ‘You know, I could really use a guy like you because I can’t depend on these people,’ and I said, ‘Oh, sure.’”
Within one week, St. John was working for The Bat. West was as good as his word and the Toledo man found himself in Cleveland a few days later clearing a path for the actor at another car show.
“I kind of did everything,” he said about his duties. “I was to watch his back when anybody came onstage. The weird thing was that people would actually be pulling on [West’s] cape.”
For a whirlwind six months, St. John traveled with West to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, Indianapolis and other places to protect him from overzealous fans and witness firsthand the life of a star on a public appearance blitz.
“For its time, that Batman show affected so many people,” he said. “It’ll go down in history, and I think [West] was the right guy at the right time to do that. He’s a genuine person. He’s genuinely funny and he’s just a true, true gentleman.”
St. John left West’s employ to pursue his own path as a musician, actor, stuntman, magician and film producer, in part inspired by his time at Batman’s side.
“Watching the people come up [to him] got me thinking to myself, ‘This is something I might like to do.’ You know, I wanted to do entertaining.”
According to the Internet Movie Database, “Besides a magician, St. John is also a hypnotist that toured as Dr. Silkini with the Buried Alive and Frozen Alive promotions. At one point did the first ever simulcast with an American and Mexican radio broadcast during a Frozen Alive promotion in Nogales Arizona/Nogales Mexico.”
On occasion, St. John found himself trying on West’s original Batman gear — the actor once even tried to get St. John to stand in for him, in costume — and years later played the role for children in hospital burn units. One story still impacts him to this day.
“They had one little boy,” St. John said. “He wasn’t in the burn unit; he got hit by a car and he had a broken leg. I go up there and the parents said, ‘He’s having nightmares,’ so, when I walked in the room, he’s lying down. He’s in his bed and he’s got his leg in a little cast. I noticed he had a Batmobile because he’s a Batman fan. I said, ‘Hey, champ,’ and he looked up at me, put his arms up, and I hug him … and I gave him a little Batman card that said, ‘If you’re ever in need, pull this card out, and I’ll be there.’ I left, and the dad came up to me and thanked me; he was crying. Well, a week later, I got a call [and they said] ‘That kid went home. He never had a nightmare since.’”
For the past 13 years, St. John has run the popular Haunted Prison Experience at the shuttered Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, the same prison that was used in the filming of 1994’s “The Shawshank Redemption.”
“It’s show business,” he said. “You get it set up, and you get to scare the crap out of people, and watch them laugh and cry and run, and it’s fantastic. So, that’s what keeps me going.”
And his memories of being Batman’s bodyguard remain.
“The rewarding part of it was getting to work with a guy like Adam West when 10 years earlier I was watching him on TV, going, ‘Wow! Batman!’” he said. “And after the series was over, I’m with him there, standing there, and it’s like ‘Pinch me.’”
Tags: Adam West, Batman, Batmobile, Caped Crusader, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dr. Silkini, Frozen Alive, Haunted Prison Experience, Indianapolis, Internet Movie Database, Louisville, Mansfield, Nogales Arizona, Nogales Mexico, Ohio State Reformatory, Pittsburgh, Shawshank Redemption