Willie James Perry, also known as Batman or the Birmingham Batman (born 1941; died 1985) was well-known for cruising around Birmingham helping stranded motorists and giving free rides in his customized 1971 Ford Thunderbird, dubbed the "Batmobile Rescue Ship".
Perry lived at 702 Delta Street South in South Titusville and worked as a manager at window distributor J. F. Day in Lakeview. He lived by the motto "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." In addition to carrying gas, jumper cables and tools to help people whose cars had broken down, Perry gave free rides to people who had too much to drink, took elderly people to doctor's appointments and drove kids around to McDonald's or as entertainment for birthday parties. On at least one occasion Perry foiled an attempted robbery at a pharmacy. He always refused payment for his services.
When making his rounds, Perry wore a white helmet with the bat logo and a white jumpsuit with brown trim. Friendly business owners sometimes helped him by donating gasoline and parts for his car. He was featured in a 1982 episode of the television show That's Incredible!. Later, while in town rehearsing with his brothers for the "Victory" tour, Michael Jackson arranged to meet Perry and examine the famous Batmobile.
Perry died of carbon monoxide poisoning when his garage door closed unnoticed while he was working on the Batmobile in 1985. He was survived by his wife, Dorothy, and daughter Renee Perry-Hill. The City of Birmingham agreed to buy Perry's car for $15,000, eventually putting it on display at the Southern Museum of Flight
- "Meet Birmingham's Batman" (July 10, 1982) UPI
- Reynolds, Ed (June 30, 2005) "Runaway bridegroom." Black & White
- Sanford, Peggy (December 20, 1994) "Sad days for 'Batmobile'." The Birmingham News
- Abrams, Vivi (June 24, 2004) "Birmingham's Batman helped those in need; His 'Rescue Ship' still survives." The Birmingham News
- Archibald, John (March 24, 2009) "Holy Bat-memories, Birmingham." The Birmingham News
- Brown, G. W. (November 12, 2009) "I Remember the Night Batman Died". Herald-Citizen (Cookeville, Tennessee)
 External links
- Batmobile of Birmingham music video by The Footwashin' Rock Baker