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thebionicbigfoot

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batman was a cowboy.jpg

Robert Lowery (born Robert Lowery Hanks, October 17, 1913 – December 26, 1971) was an American motion picture, television, and stage actor. He graduated from Paseo High School in Kansas City, and soon was invited to sing with the Slats Randall Orchestra in the early 1930s. Lowery played on the Kansas City Blues minor league baseball team and was overall considered a versatile athlete; his physique and strength were gained from a stint working in a paper factory as a teenager. After the death of his father in 1935, he traveled to Hollywood with his mother and their housekeeper and enrolled in the Lila Bliss acting school before being signed by Twentieth Century Fox in 1937.

During his time at Twentieth Century Fox and subsequent time as a TV guest star, Lowery appeared in over 187 movie and scores more of TV roles. 

The distinction that is most interesting to the author is the fact that Robert Lowery starred as the 2nd actor ever to have played the role of the caped crusader, Batman. 

Batman and Robin (sometimes called The New Adventures of Batman and Robin) or New Adventures of Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder) is a 15-chapter serial released in 1949 by Columbia Pictures. It is a sequel to the 1943 serial Batman, although with different actors. Robert Lowery played Batman, while Johnny Duncan played Robin. Supporting players included Jane Adams as Vicki Vale and veteran character actor Lyle Talbot as Commissioner Gordon.

The Dynamic Duo face off against the Wizard, a hooded villain with an electrical device which controls cars and a desire to set challenges for the Dynamic Duo, whose identity remains a mystery throughout until the end.

Lowery was the predecessor to the 1966 Batman classic that starred Adam West and must be honored as one of the earliest pioneers to bring the role to the big screen. Recently I have became very interested in all of the actors that have starred in the Golden Age of Super Heroes that have appeared on the big screen. Examples include Tom Tyler as Captain Marvel, Dick Purcell as Captain America, and Elmo Lincoln as the first screen Tarzan. It is very rewarding to research the series of cards these actors have appeared in, and keeping with the sports tradition, trying to figure out the actors first appearance, or rookie card. 

This article deals with Lowery’s inclusion in the 1949 Bowman Wild West Set, card H-16. The cardboard connection website describes the 1949 Bowman Wild West set as, “1949 Bowman Wild West trading cards offer a visual look at the romantic notion of America's frontier days. One of the most popular non-sport sets of all-time, the set is large and relatively difficult to piece together.

The complete set clocks in at 180 cards that were released in multiple series. The checklist is broken down into eight subsets, each with its own numbering. Given that the releases were spread out, it would make sense that each subset was its own release. But that's not the case. All of the subsets were released together with the numbers adding on to the end of the previous release and expanding each outward.”

Recently I was able to purchase this Robert Lowery card, graded PSA 8. According to the most current PSA Population Report (as of 11/20/18), there have been 19 examples of this card graded, with the PSA 8 being the single example submitted in that grade, and the highest grade of the card examined by PSA. Therefore, this is the finest example known of the 2nd Batman’s 1949 Wild West card. 

This article will be the first of many providing background history of the actors that starred as Golden Age Super Heroes and their related period cards. Few cards are offered of the hero in costume, so collectors will have to settle for any card that depicts the actor from those early serials. Questions may be directed to Troy R. Kinunen at troy@mearsonline.com or call (414)-828-9990.

Question: The 1949 Bowman Wild West Card is not Robert Lowery's first card. Does anyone know which card would be considered Robert Lowery's rookie card?  

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