Tonight in the sky, it’s the Batsignal. No, its not the signal for the Caped Crusader. It shines in sadness. Last night , the actor who played sixties icon Batman, Adam West died of complications from leukemia. Forever pigeonholed by his portrayal of Bob Kane’s legendary superhero, Batman, West made a career by appearing at Comic Cons and endearing himself to millions of fans. Today, social media was filled with tributes of fans and former cast mates like Burt Ward and “Family Guy” creator, Seth Mcfarlane. In later years , West would voice the befuddled Mayor West on “Family Guy.” This would endear him to a whole new generation.
Adam was born William West Anderson in Walla Walla Washington in 1928. His father was a wheat farmer and his mother was an opera singer. Adam started to work in radio when he was in high school. He ran the station when he was a grad student at Stanford. Later on, West was a contract player for Warner Brothers where he would appear on such shows as “Maverick”, “77 Sunset Strip” and “Cheyenne.” In early 1966 , West would read the script that would change his life forever. West would return from Europe to read 20 pages of the script and then sign with producer , William Dozier. He also approved Burt Ward as Robin/ Dick Grayson with no acting experience but a brown belt in karate. The show exploded on ABC on two consecutive nights with the one night ending with the Dynamic Duo in a dire situation to be resolved on the following night. “Batman” was the height of camp with its fight scenes punctuated with words like POW and SPLAT! . It became the coolest show on tv and being cast as a super villain was one of the most envied parts on television. Color television was coming into being and “Batman” was perfect for the new media. It also proved to be escapist television in the midst of a country that showed war on the nightly news. But just as the show exploded, with in two years it fizzled. The show had done its damage to West’s career , forever typecasting him as the Caped Crusader. He did episodic tv like “Alice” and recently appeared as himself on the mega hit , “The Big Bang Theory.” For the most part, his latter career consisted of himself or voicing Batman for various animated series.
Here is Adam as he appeared on the CBS hit, “The Big Bang Theory” on the 200th episode “The Celebration Experimentation” He is pictured with series stars Kunal Nayar, Kaley Kuoco, Simon Helberg, Johnny Galecki, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch, and Jim Parsons. Also pictured is “Star Trek Next Generation” icon Will Wheaton.
West was survived by his second wife, Marcella. and his children and grandchildren. We at chitownstarconnections give our sympathy to the West family.
Goodbye Old Chum! Adam West 1928-2017… here he is in the iconic role that he made famous Bruce Wayne / Batman and his partner, Dick Grayson/ Robin played by Burt Ward.