Adam West, 1928-2017

Adam West, the prolific actor who played the original Batman has died after a bout with leukemia. West was 88 years old.

Adam West — an actor defined and also constrained by his role in the 1960s series “Batman” — died Friday night in Los Angeles. He was 88. A rep said that he died after a short battle with leukemia.

“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement.

After a love-hate relationship with the iconic Batman character, West learned to embrace the mask.

Asked by Variety what the character of Batman has come to mean to him over five decades, West said: “Money. Some years ago I made an agreement with Batman. There was a time when Batman really kept me from getting some pretty good roles, and I was asked to do what I figured were important features. However, Batman was there, and very few people would take a chance on me walking on to the screen. And they’d be taking people away from the story. So I decided that since so many people love Batman, I might as well love it too. Why not? So I began to reengage myself with Batman. And I saw the comedy. I saw the love people had for it, and I just embraced it.”

Not only do I feel lucky for being able to see Batman reruns as a child, but I’m also thankful my kids were able to enjoy West’s voice-over work.

West was also prolific as a voice actor. He worked on dozens of animated series during the past 40 years, from numerous incarnations of the Batman character to “Kim Possible,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “The Fairly Oddparents,” “The Boondocks” and “Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero.”

Obviously, West’s greatest work was in The Simpsons’ episode, “Mr. Plow.”

Rest in peace, Mr. West. Thank you for all the terrific memories.

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8 thoughts on “Adam West, 1928-2017

  1. Not to take away from a fine actor, but West was the original TV Batman. Lewis Wilson was Batman in a Columbia pictures serial in 1943. (A little before our time!)
    His distinguished, soft spoken voice will be missed!

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      1. I have both the 40’s serials. They’re both incredible, mostly for hokeyness causing laughs. In the first one, the badguy is a Japanese agent, complete with the WWII take on that. In one of them, the Batmobile is just Bruce Wayne’s convertible with the top down. I think it’s in the 1949 one, Batman and Robin get trapped in a barometric chamber and Batman uses a torch to cut his way out. He didn’t have a utility belt on the costume at all, he just pulls a full sized 1940’s acetylene torch and bottle out of his tights.

        You can definitely see the origins of the Adam West camp. The difference is the West version was played up for entertainment, to often brilliant effect. The serials’ camp were because cheaply made 1940’s movie serials.

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