Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lyn Simmons previously unpublished interview, 2006; part 3 of 3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I interviewed her for Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman and am now posting many of those previously unpublished interviews.

Part 1. 

Part 2.

Did you happen to know his parents’ names?

No. I know he didn’t talk to them at all.

Were they still alive when you guys met?

Yes. And I used to urge him to. I said for god’s sake, you’re a grown man now. Talk to them. But he just couldn’t. Whatever went wrong there, it couldn’t be made right.

Do you remember him telling you that one or both of them had passed away?


So he wouldn’t have gone to the funerals?

Well, they were alive up until I moved to California. [actually, they died in 1961, within two months of each other]

But you never met them or he never talked to them in your presence?


Why was he not in touch with them?

I don't know. Something was wrong with the relationship. Very wrong. And he just would have nothing to do with them.

Do you have any ideas where I can find out what their names were?

I have no idea where you could find that out. I’m bad at this sort of thing. I think his parents lived in Brooklyn. When we met, Bill was my second husband and I was his second wife. We were both grown up. And we just had a wonderful time together. We had arguments and fights but we always got together. I think about him still. It was for the most part a wonderful relationship.

What was Bill’s work schedule like? His writing schedule?

He worked a lot at night. Sometimes all night. When he worked, he worked very hard and steadily at it. But he didn’t always work very hard. He did miss deadlines. But they knew he was a very good writer for them and they gave the work.

Would he tell you,
Tomorrow’s a deadline and I’m not going to make it?

Yeah, he would.

What was his attitude?

He would say I have a deadline and I have to meet it. He would be serious about it. He was very serious about his work, but he just had certain weaknesses.

When he was not making deadlines, was he working on the story but just finishing in time, or was he completely procrastinating or distracted?


So when he was not working, what was he doing instead?

I don't know because if I knew about it, I would be yelling at him.

Did he still golf when you knew him?

No, he didn’t play golf when I knew him.

He used to play earlier. He used to play when he was still in the Bronx.

Maybe that’s where his parents lived, in the Bronx?

They did originally. Have you ever been interviewed about Bill before?

No, I haven’t, although I was in touch with Hollywood at one point because Bob Kane, something had happened with Bob Kane and Batman and I wanted to get Bill in on it. Bill was not alive.

Was this the first movie [1989]?

Maybe so. And they got very interested and then I said I was his wife, then they found I was divorced and that ended it.

So you wanted to try to get him some—

I wanted to get him the notice that he should’ve gotten as part of this. [how close she got]

Did you start that or did somebody contact you to help do that?

I don’t recall. Somebody may have contacted me.

Did you know Bob Kane?

I met him once, I think, at some function.

What was Bill’s opinion of him?

He never talked much about him.

Who were his friends in the comic book industry that you also knew?

Jerry somebody.


Maybe. He knew a lot of science fiction writers. We were both into science fiction. When 2001 came out, we went crazy. We went and got tickets. I don’t remember the names, I’m sorry.

Did he have any working quirks? Certain lucky charm on his desk?

No, he didn’t. When he wrote, he wrote well. I think he went over things a lot. He consulted with the artist.

Do you remember that he appeared at a comic convention in 1965 in New York?

No I don’t. He wouldn’t be good on panels.

Why not?

He wasn’t a good spontaneous speaker. He wasn’t real sure of himself. He could be wonderful personally and in familiar—with friends. But how was he on the panel?

I only have the transcript. [said he was jovial, had sense of humor, not most talkative of the four; I have since gotten the audio recording of the panel]

No. [she asked who other three were, she didn’t know them]

[I said Bill came late and they started without him, she laughed, “That would be Bill.”]

What did he look like?

Very attractive to women. He just had a good face. Sort of bald, was losing his hair. He had thick eyebrows. He had a very broad mouth, very nice mouth. He had lines down his cheeks that were very attractive.

Around his mouth, right?

Yes. He always wore Brooks Brothers shirts. He dressed well.

Anecdotes in relation to his work?

No. He was working, I was working. I was an advertising manager for a company for a lot of years. And Bill worked. We got together when we weren’t working. I slept over in the Village, he slept over—my children would stay with their father on weekends so that’s when Bill would stay over.

[asked about talking to her children, said she’s sure they’ll be happy to talk to me]

Do you think that they realize how important Bill was to comics?

No. They know that he did a lot with Batman. They knew that he had a good reputation. But they were too young.

[told her that since the ‘80s he’s become a legend, one of the most revered but tragic figures in comics, Lyn said that’s wonderful, she’s going to cry, she goes into comic book store every so often to see if there’s anything about Bill Finger, employees thrilled when she says she was married to Bill Finger

says she married about four years after Bill died and that was mistake, knew first husband since 13, his sister was her best friend, married and had three children, grew apart, Bill was my main love, this is very good what you’re doing]

You sound very, very nice. It would be nice to meet you sometime. [we eventually did]

[she asked me to think up more questions]


When did Bill and Portia divorce?

Probably the year before [Bill and I got married]. He didn’t get divorced from her for quite a while, which was okay with me because I was getting alimony and child support from my first husband and Bill didn’t have much money. But finally he got his divorce a year or two before we got married.

What do you remember about the Army Pictorial Center?

He wrote training films for them. And he hated it.

Was he still working in comics at the time?

Yes he was.

That was a desk job—he’d go every day?

I’m not sure he went every day. He was living with me on the island. I forget. I don’t think he went every day. Maybe he did. I’m not sure.

Let’s get back to the Superman script story you mentioned.

They asked him to come out to California to write the scripts [sic]. I don’t know if he would have had a writing partner. But he didn’t go.

They called him to do that?

Yeah, he was on the phone with them and they wrote him.

The money wasn’t enough of a motivation?

Oh no. I’m sure it would’ve been a lot of money. But money didn’t motivate Bill that way.

When was that?

It was in the ‘60s. The late ‘60s, I would say. While we were living together. [mentions how he had to take two trains to work] …big change for him to move out to Long Island. When we got married he moved out to Long Island.

Do you remember why he was not drafted? 4F?

Was he 4F?

That’s what I read.

He may have had heart trouble. I know he did have it early on. Something physical, I’m sure. [I later acquired his military record]

Do you remember Freddie being the same age as any of your kids?

When he came over he was very young. Like five or six. Maybe seven. Below ten.

When he came over where?

Great Neck, with Bill. Bill would bring him over to visit and be with my kids. He was overweight and he was very unfriendly, but he was young.

In Great Neck or Roslyn?

This was in my house in Roslyn. I lived there from 1952…no, 1950 to 1964, when I sold it and moved to Great Neck.

[tape cuts out (though we were nearly done anyway); she said she’d like to pay for Bill’s tombstone, and knows her son Steve would want to pay for all of it, she also wants involvement with what’s written on it]

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