Career actor Adam West, iconic Batman of the 1960s television series, died this last weekend. Batman premiered, to great youth acclaim, in January 1966. West, who played the part with a wry sense of the show's reality, quickly became a cultural icon and touchstone.
He died after a short bout with Leukemia, surrounded by his wife Marcelle, his six children and their offspring.
He grew up in Walla Walla, Washington, and attended college there, before serving in the armed forces in Hawaii. In college he became involved in the arts, and was an announcer for the Armed Forces Radio Network.
He first came to Hollywood during the beefcake craze of the late 1950s-early 1960s and starred in movies and tv shows which allowed him to show off his physique.
He was well known for his positive outlook, even after Batman type casted him and made it almost impossible for him to work for several years.
He rebounded, with steady employment keeping him occupied, and was most recently well known as playing the voice of the Mayor of Quahog (whose character name on the show was Adam West) on Family Guy. His family issued a statement up his death: "Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans' lives. He was and always will be our hero."
West said that he liked the scripts instantly for the Batman show. He said if Batman were played in a serious way, a subtext would be that he was a bit crazy. Playing the role in a comedic way, he said, provided the proper balance, and allowed them to push the limits of fun and believability. Some of the actors who played Batman in later film versions should have taken a lesson.
West was raised on a wheat farm in eastern Washington state, and when he struggled financially after the show, he and his family moved to Idaho.
As a boy, watching Batman for the first time in after school reruns, the cape, the cowl, the batpole into the batcave, and his relationship with the Boy Wonder, Robin, always stimulated me to watch again. I would not have minded being put to sleep and having BatWake used on me in the bat cave, surrounded by all that satin. The shows in which Batman and Robin were in jeopardy, with fights to follow, were always so much fun. Batman and Robin, and Burt Ward and Adam West, taught a lot about male friendship, about bonding, about fighting evil, about working together for the common good.
Godspeed, Adam West. Rest in peace.