With the heaviest of hearts we are reporting today that Adam West – the actor who first defined the iconic role of Batman – has passed away today at the age of 88. A rep for the actor said he died after fighting a short battle with leukemia.
West started playing the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman in 1966 on the TV series BATMAN, which became an instant success. Embracing the color and vibe of the era, BATMAN became known for its cheesiness, eccentric villains, “BAM,” “POW” pop-ups and, most of all, West’s enthusiastic, lovable take on the Caped Crusader. Along with Burt Ward as Robin he lived by day as Bruce Wayne, but fought villains like The Joker (Cesar Romero) and The Penquin (Burgess Meredith) at night. Though the show (and the tie-in movie) was a huge hit, it was ultimately cancelled after three seasons, mainly due to high production costs and dipping popularity.
As for post-BATMAN work, West became so associated with the character that it limited the acting roles he was able to take, as casting directors thought it would be hard for audiences to take him seriously once he came on-screen. As a result he stuck to TV work and B-movies, and though he has spoken against darker takes on the character (such as the Tim Burton movies), in time he learned to embrace the role, spending the rest of his career attending fan events, voicing the character in animated versions of Batman, and voicing himself as the over-the-top mayor of Quahog on FAMILY GUY since 2000. The original BATMAN show has grown in popularity of the years, cementing West’s legacy as a true superhero icon.
There have been many Batmen over the years, such as Michael Keaton, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck, but few will be able to attain the kind of legendary status West has. He was unique unto his era, embracing a fun, bright Batman with spirit and aplomb, and will forever remain THE Batman for so many fans. While Batman has become more famous in recent years for his grit and dramatic leanings, it’s impossible to forget that campy, dancing, effortlessly entertaining Bat-era when West reigned supreme. West will be sorely missed, and has certainly earned the title of The Bright Knight.
So with heavy hearts and sadness in our eyes, we here on Movie Freaks And Geeks say so long Mr. West. Thank you for the memories and may you rest well. Our condolences go out to Adam West’s families and friends.