Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lyn Simmons previously unpublished interview, 2006; part 1 of 3

Lyn was Bill Finger’s companion in the 1960s and his second wife from 1968 to 1971. She was unknown to the comics world before I discovered her.

I interviewed her for Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman and am now posting many of those previously unpublished interviews.


As you probably know, Bill Finger was a major factor in the creation of Batman and never received [official] credit.

That’s right, he was, and he never received enough credit for it. And I feel very badly about that. He was the one—he decided on having the Penguin, giving Batman a cape, and all sorts of different details that I may or may not remember. He was very instrumental in developing the whole image of Batman.

How old are you?

I’m 83. I was born in 1922. Bill was 10 years older than I. [Bill was born 1914]

Tell me what your memories are of Bill as a person and as a creative type.

As a person, he was very, very warm, very sincere, very hard-working, even though he problems meeting deadlines. We were very much in love most of the time. Toward the end it got a little bad. But for the most part he was my big, passionate love affair. We spent enormous amounts of time together. He had a good sense of humor. He was very interested in the theater, and ballet, and classical music. He gave an awful lot of thought to writing. He wouldn’t write any violent comic books.

Did he feel pressure that other people wanted him to write violent stuff?

Well, they would ask him to and he wouldn’t. He was asked to go out to Hollywood to write the Superman script and he didn’t do it. [NOTE: It turned out she was most likely thinking of the 1966 Filmation Superman series of animated shorts.] He liked New York and he didn’t want to leave there. And when we married he was out on Long Island with me but he just held on to the space he had and didn’t like to leave it. So going out to California was a great big step for him.

They asked him to write the script from scratch, or did they want him to edit somebody’s—

I think he would’ve had a partner. I don’t remember—you know, it’s 34 years, or 31 years, since he died. I don’t remember but I know he could’ve gone out and written Superman for the movies. And he just never took up that opportunity. He also worked very hard at getting the right words and the right image for Batman. He worried about it a lot and thought about it a lot. It was real important to him. Personally he was wonderful, I was in love with him, and he was a wonderful guy.

How did you meet?

We met at a friend’s house in the village. She was my friend. It was a couple—they were Bill’s friend and I was there with another friend and we went up to visit. He was there. And that’s how we met.

Do you know what year that was?

Oh God. I would’ve been about 35—that would’ve been 50 years [ago] almost.

When did you two start a relationship?

Right away. We started going out. He called me about two weeks after we met. He took me a foreign film, the first date. Something about the fifth lamb, I forget what it was.

This was in the fifties?

Oh yes.

So he was already divorced from Portia?

No he wasn’t. He didn’t get divorced for a few years.

The first time you lived together was in Great Neck, right?

No, we were together, I lived with him in the Village. We were living with each other on and off. We vacationed together often. We used to go to Cape Cod and up to the Hamptons.

Where did you live in the city?

When I met Bill I was on the island. I have three children.

So you have Eve and Steve…

…and Andy.

Where does he fall, oldest, youngest?

He’s my middle son.

When you lived with Bill in the city was that the 45 Grove Street address?

Oh god…

Or the neighborhood if you can’t remember the address.

No I don’t. He lived alone. I don’t remember that first apartment’s address.

But it was in the Village?

Yeah it was in the Village, it was always in the Village.

That might’ve been the 45 Grove Street. 

[said how I went around city and took photos of where he lived]

I think it’s awfully nice that you’re doing this. I’m so happy for Bill that you’re doing it.

Do you have any photos of Bill?

I think I had a couple. I’ll have to look through my books. We weren’t photo people so we just didn’t take many photos.

[she said she had just gotten back from New York and she’s tired so can we continue tomorrow, then: Could you tell me what you said about things you’d do for Bill?]

As I understand it, he was buried on Hart Island so he doesn’t have a gravestone. Do you know about that?

I was in California [when Bill died] and my son was having a very serious operation. He has no gravestone?

I’m almost positive.

Oh god.

The friend of his that told me about you whose name is Charles Sinclair—

Oh yeah! Where is Charles?

In Brooklyn. I could put you guys in touch.

Yeah, I’d like to be in touch with him again.

[she said let’s continue tomorrow, I said if the book does well I’d like to get Bill a proper gravestone and she agreed]

I’m so glad, I’m so glad you’re doing this. I came out here 35 years ago to take care of my son Andrew who had a very bad accident and injured his spinal cord and he’s in a wheelchair so I took care of him out here for 12 years. When Bill died, well that’s another story that might interest you, Charlie said I was psychic, but it was very strange thing that happened, but I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Part 2.

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