In Memoriam: Adam West, 1928 – 2017

The Bat-signal went dark last Friday as TV’s Batman, Adam West, passed away after a long struggle with leukemia. He passed at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by his loved ones. West is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Although largely known for Batman, he will also be remembered as the Mayor of Quohog on Family Guy. With many television and film credits to list, West stayed busy throughout his lengthy career. He was the perfect Batman with his good looks, chiseled features, and fit physique. The shadow of the Bat was cast over the rest of his career. He wasn’t able to pick and choose his roles, as he was mostly associated as television’s Batman.

After graduating from college with a degree in literature, West married his first wife and moved to Hawaii and was cast in a television show. After marrying his second wife, he moved to Los Angeles in 1955 and pursued work in film.

Acting in films of varying degrees for a decade, West was cast as billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (a.k.a. Batman). West’s version of the caped crusader was anything but the Dark Knight. The show is campy as heck, but it’s highly entertaining, visually groundbreaking, and a dramatis personae that just can’t be beat. One would think an actor would shy away from such silly shows, but Batman was a high and hey, it was the sixties.

Batman attracted big names like Caesar Romero as The Joker, Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, and Julie Newmar as Catwoman. It was a cast of many stars. Yvonne Craig was an amazing cast addition as Batgirl, and without any acting experience except a black belt in karate, West approved the casting of Burt Ward as Robin. They would remain friendly after the show ended.

The show ran from 1966 to 1968 and would wield a theatrical release. The film was a hit. A standout from the film was when Batman had to fight off a shark while dangling from a helicopter on a rope ladder. (I’d like to see a Batman vs. Jaws film! That would be epic!)

With television shows like Perry Mason and Mannix and films such as The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood and Drop Dead Gorgeous, West would continue to work on a consistent basis throughout the remainder of his acting career.

West devoted most of his later years to voice-over work for Family Guy. Playing the mayor with a few loose marbles made his performance as hilarious as it was memorable. Fortunately, West left his fans a gift before leaving this mortal coil in the form of a Direct-to-DVD cartoon called Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, which reunited West and Ward. It was extremely well done visually and storywise. It was a thrill to get a final look back to 1966 of a beloved and missed dynamic duo.

It feels like the end of an era. We will always love and cherish the legacy of TV’s Batman, Adam West. If only he were here to deliver a corny monologue to Robin with some fatherly advice or a wise metaphor. Oh yes, Mr. West – you will be missed.

To the Bat Cave!

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