Adam West, the first actor to bring Batman to the small and big screen in the 1960s, died Friday night. The actor passed away in Los Angeles after “a short but brave battle with leukemia,” his family said in a statement. The actor was 88.
“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fan’s lives. He was and always will be our hero,” the statement reads.
Although he played different roles throughout his life, the actor was best known for being the first to portray Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighter alter ego in the ABC show. – And the posterior film adaptation of the series – based on the DC Comics character.
During three seasons, for a total of 120 episodes, from 1966 to 1968, West did an exaggerated, quirky and forever remembered portrayal of Batman. “My Batman has endured because it had something for everyone,” West told the Daily Express in an interview back in 2015. “When you were a kid you could enjoy all the adventure, the color, the crazy costumes, the wonderful villains. Then as you got a little bit older you saw the satirical elements, the bizarre stuff.”
Adam West: Batman forever
West – real name William West Anderson – was born in Walla Walla, Washington, in 1928. He moved to Seattle when he was 15, and moved back to home to study at Whitman College. A private liberal arts school.
After serving in the Army, he went to Hollywood and changed his name to Adam West, and began appearing in different television series, including ‘Bonanza,’ ‘’Perry Mason’ and ‘Bewitched.’ He also appeared in different films, being the most memorable ‘Robinson Crusoe on Mars’ in 1964.
In 1966 he got the role of Batman in the TV adaptation of the DC comic. After the success of the series first season, West step into the role of the superhero in the first big screen adaptation of the comic book.
His characteristic portrayal has been immortalized, becoming a “must” reference for all the future actors who would portray Batman. Including Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck. Although the Batman character has only become darker throughout the years, Wests intentions of playing the superhero “for laughs,” as he once said, remain relevant in the foundations of Batman’s characterization.
Such was his work as Bruce Wayne that he couldn’t help but get typecast. Following the end of the Batman TV series, he starred in the movie ‘The Girl Who Knew Too Much’ in 1969. The movie didn’t do good at the box office, and West couldn’t get rid of the Batman image.
Many roles followed, but he could never achieve the success he did as Batman. They were mostly small movie roles in films including ‘One Dark Night,’ ‘Joyride,’ ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous,’ ‘Blue Harvest,’ and much more. He stood out as a voice actor thanks to his unique dramatic tone. “If I pick up a telephone and make an international call, the operator knows my voice immediately, as does everybody else,” he told CNN in an interview two years ago.
He also did tons of guest appearances as himself and kept constantly returning back to his Batman role – or similar, such as Catman in ‘The Fairly OddParents’ for 7 episodes of the animated series. He got his greatest regular gig since the Batman TV show as the voice of Mayor Adam West on Set MacFarlane’s sitcom ‘Family Guy.’ Which he did since 2000 until the current season.
Stars remember Adam West
After his death was announced, many fellow actors shared their thoughts about West’s career and how meaningful his work was for them. Burt Ward, who played Batman’s sidekick, Robin, back in the ‘60s, told Variety that the two remained friends after the filming ended, building a friendship for over 50 years.
“We shared some of the most fun times of our lives together,’ Ward said. “This is a terribly unexpected loss of my lifelong friend. I will forever miss him.”
Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman to West’s Batman, said, “He was bright, witty and fun to work with. I will miss him in the physical world and savor him always in the world of imagination and creativity.”
Other celebrities took social media to pay homage to the late actor. Such as Affleck, who called the actor an example of heroism, MacFarlane, who thanked him for the 17 years of amazing work together. And filmmaker Edgar Wright, who referred to him as “MY Batman.” Even Slash had something to say about the actor.
Adam West exemplified heroism. Kind, funny and an all around great guy. Thank you for showing us all how it’s done. @therealadamwest
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) June 10, 2017
— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) June 10, 2017
Farewell Adam West. You were MY Batman. Such a super funny, cool, charismatic actor. Loved the show as a kid, still love the show now. POW! pic.twitter.com/6QAZnOhtMs
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) June 10, 2017
— Butch Hartman (@realhartman) June 10, 2017