Adam West, who earned a place in pop culture history with his campy portrayal of the title character in the classic 1960s TV series Batman, has died at age 88, his family said.
- Adam West was famous for playing Batman in the 1960s TV series
- He changed his name from William West Anderson after moving to Hollywood
- He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012
West died on Friday night after “a short but brave battle with leukaemia”, the family statement said.
“He was a beloved father, husband, grandfather, and great-grandfather. There are no words to describe how much we’ll miss him.”
The live-action Batman show, starring West along with Burt Ward as his sidekick Robin and a collection of colourful villains, was inspired by a long-running comic book series.
It ran only three seasons from 1966 to 1968 on the ABC network, but became a television phenomenon and cult classic. It also spawned a Batman feature film in 1966.
When West took on the tights, he stoked the stoicism for laughs: a superhero letting everyone know he was in on the joke.
“We were making overstated morality plays for children that adults could watch and enjoy,” West told the Los Angeles Times in a 2004 interview.
“We played it terribly serious, and that’s half the fun of it.”
Viewers came to expect fight scenes where Batman and his trusted sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder, would battle and array of anonymous henchmen, dispatching them with comedic blows punctuated with onomatopoeia graphics that filled the screen: Bam! Whap! Pow! He would be associated with the role for the rest of his life.
While he initially chafed at being typecast after Batman went off the air, in later years West admitted he was pleased to have had a role in kicking off a big-budget film franchise by showing the character’s wide appeal.
“You get terribly typecast playing a character like that,” he said in a 2014 interview.
“But in the overall, I’m delighted because my character became iconic and has opened a lot of doors in other ways, too.”
More recently, he did the voice of nutty Mayor Adam West in the long-running Family Guy series.
“He was bright, witty and fun to work with,” said Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman to West’s Batman.
“I will miss him in the physical world and savour him always in the world of imagination and creativity.”
Ward, who played Robin, was friends with West for more than 50 years.
“We shared some of the most fun times of our lives together, Ward told the Variety entertainment media outlet.
“This is a terribly unexpected loss of my lifelong friend. I will forever miss him.”
In April 2012, West received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Batman was the role West would remain associated with throughout his life. (AP: Lennox McLendon, file)
Batman: a lifelong association
Tweet from Edgar Wright: “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!”
Born William West Anderson in Walla Walla, Washington, he moved to Seattle at age 15 with his mother after his parents divorced.
After serving in the Army, he went to Hollywood and changed his name to Adam West, and began appearing on a number of television series, including Bonanza, Perry Mason and Bewitched.
Batman was the role he would remain associated with throughout his life.
Filmmakers Edgar Wright and Leslye Headland were among those lamenting West’s death on Twitter.
“Farewell Adam West. You were MY Batman,” Mr Wright wrote.
“Such a super funny, cool, charismatic actor. Loved the show as a kid, still love the show now. POW!”
Ms Headland wrote: “My childhood hero & still my favorite Batman. RIP Adam West. #pow”
West was married three times, and had six children.
He had homes in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, California, but he and his wife, Marcelle, spent most of their time at their ranch near Sun Valley, Idaho, where he remained in on the joke.
An online search of the Sun Valley directory for Adam West results in a prompt to “See Wayne, Bruce (Millionaire),” which results in “Please consult Crime Fighters in the Yellow Pages,” leading to “See Batman,” leading back to Adam West. None have phone numbers.