Char­ity Bat­man im­per­son­ator dies


A man who de­lighted thou­sands of chil­dren by im­per­son­at­ing Bat­man at hos­pi­tals and char­ity events in the U.S. died when he was hit by a car while stand­ing in the fast lane of a high­way, check­ing the en­gine of his cus­tom-made Bat­mo­bile, po­lice said Mon­day.

Leonard B. Robin­son, 51, of the eastern U.S. state Mary­land, was re­turn­ing from a week­end fes­ti­val in West Vir­ginia when he was struck by a Toy­ota Camry at about 10:30 p.m. Sun­day west of Bal­ti­more. Robin­son had pulled his car onto the me­dian, with the pas­sen­ger side partly in the traf­fic lane, po­lice said.

Po­lice said the Camry also sideswiped the red-and-black Bat­mo­bile, a replica of the car used in the 1960s “Bat­man” tele­vi­sion show. The Camry driver, a 39-year-old man, wasn’t hurt and hasn’t been charged.

Po­lice said Robin­son’s car was unin­sured and wore a li­cense, “4BATMAN,” that was is­sued another ve­hi­cle.

Robin­son, co-owner of an ap­pli­ance re­pair busi­ness in Vir­ginia, be­gan vis­it­ing hos­pi­tal­ized chil­dren in 2001, mas­querad­ing as his son’s fa­vorite su­per­hero, ac­cord­ing to Robin­son’s web­site,­per­heroes­

He gained na­tional at­ten­tion in 2012 when dash­cam video sur­faced of po­lice in Mary­land pulling him over while he was driv­ing his black Lam­borgh­ini — not the Bat­mo­bile replica — dressed as Bat­man. Robin­son traded the Lam­borgh­ini for the Bat­mo­bile later that year.

He av­er­aged about 18 vis­its a year to hos­pi­tals, schools and char­ity events, hand­ing out toys and t-shirts, giv­ing “Bat­man” au­to­graphs and dis­cour­ag­ing kids from bul­ly­ing, ac­cord­ing to his web­site and his fa­ther, Larry Robin­son.

“To see these chil­dren, the smiles that come onto their faces — it was like a mir­a­cle for these chil­dren,” Larry Robin­son said.

The Washington Post re­ported

to in 2012 that Robin­son spent US$25,000 of his own money on Bat­man-re­lated items for kids ev­ery year.

Sharen Sumpter-Deitz, a board mem­ber of the South Charleston, West Vir­ginia, Con­ven­tion and Visi­tors Bureau, said Robin­son had left for home Sun­day af­ter­noon af­ter meet­ing hun­dreds of chil­dren over the week­end at the city’s Sum­mer­fest, two day­care cen­ters and a li­brary. It was his third visit, she said.

“He made them feel like they were the most im­por­tant per­son in the whole wide world when he was talk­ing to them,” she said.

DC En­ter­tain­ment, the Warner Bros. En­ter­tain­ment Inc. unit that owns Bat­man, said it was aware of Robin­son’s work and had no ob­jec­tions. The com­pany posted a mes­sage on the of­fi­cial Bat­man Face­book page: “Our thoughts are with the fam­ily and friends of Leonard Robin­son, who shared his love of Bat­man with ev­ery­one around him.”


(Above) In this Satur­day, Aug. 15 photo, Leonard Robin­son, dressed as Bat­man, vis­its Mat­tie Dil­lon on the pe­di­atrics floor of Charleston Area Med­i­cal Cen­ter Women and Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal in Charleston, West Vir­ginia. (Right) In this Fri­day, Aug. 14 photo, Ryan Dun­can gets his arm au­to­graphed by Leonard Robin­son, dressed as Bat­man, dur­ing a visit with chil­dren at the Mor­ris Me­mo­rial Day Care in Kanawha City, West Vir­ginia.

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