Lenny B. Robinson didn’t have the physique of Christian Bale or Michael Keaton, but the children he visited at regional hospitals always thrilled at his appearances as Batman. Robinson, a businessman from Baltimore County, drove up and down Route 29 in one of his Batmobiles—either a a black Lamborghini outfitted with novelty plates featuring the Caped Crusader’s famous sigil, or a replica of the convertible used in the 1960s television series.
Robinson, 51, died Sunday night on Interstate 70 near Hagerstown after the car he was driving home broke down and was struck by a Toyota Camry, causing the Batmobile to hit him. He was pronounced dead at the scene, the Washington Post reports. Robinson was driving home from a car show in West Virginia, where, according to his Facebook page, he had shown off both vehicles.
As much as Robinson enjoyed showing off his cars, his favorite appearances as Batman were his hospital visits. Robinson, who traced his Batman obsession to his son’s, had been making the visits clandestinely for a few years. But he became an internet sensation in March 2012 when he was pulled over in Silver Spring for having improper (i.e., Bat-shaped) license plates on the Lamborghini. The police video of the stop made it online, and Robinson’s cover was blown.
I interviewed Robinson three months later for DCist, a few days before the release of The Dark Knight Rises. When we spoke by phone, he had just purchased the convertible Batmobile from a dealer in British Columbia, and was driving it back across North America, making hospital visits along the way. While Robinson was as excited as any superfan would be for a new Batman movie, he was more eager to talk about bringing some cheer to kids who sorely needed it:
“The kids are in the hospitals and fghting 24/7 for their lives,” Robinson said. “They can’t go out and see a new movies whether its Spider-Man last week or Batman this week. They are fighting every single day. And I feel it when I visit them. And I think I can help them feel better. That’s pscyhe. That’s what I do, that’s the bottom line. Everything else I do, whether I’m me or Batman or just in the car, that’s all fun and good. Hope for Henry, Superheroes for Good, those are for the kids. It just touches the core within me. And I thank God every day that my kids were and are healthy. It’s tough enough in this world when you are OK.”
His favorite movie Batman, by the way, was Keaton.