It is with great sadness that we note the passing of actor Adam West, on June 09, 2017, at the age of 88.
Adam West was one of those rare personalities who was universally beloved, particularly by those of us who were children of the sixties! His uniquely zestful personality and acting style pretty much made him a favorite to everyone!
When Adam West burst into our living rooms each Wednesday and Thursday evenings as BATMAN, there had never been anything like it before – and did he, and the series he would be forever associated with, ever arrive at the perfect time!
Premiering on January 12-13, 1966, almost literally bisecting the final television season to broadcast a steadily-dwindling number of prime-time series in Black and White, Adam West’s BATMAN shattered any final lingerings of television as it was during the previous decade-and-a-half.
While other fantasy-oriented prime-time network series such as VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, LOST IN SPACE, THE WILD WILD WEST and sitcoms like BEWITCHED, I DREAM OF JEANNIE, GET SMART, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, and THE MUNSTERS had started the ball decidedly rolling in the imaginative direction that 1960s television would best be remembered for, it was BATMAN – thanks to Adam West and the talented actors, writers, and directors that fashioned this unique series – that boldly announced that the Sixties “In-Color” had arrived!
Adam West was the PERFECT Batman for the sixties. Resolute, melodramatic, even “square”… but FUN! Always FUN!
But, having run my own personal DVD “West-Fest” in the days following his death, it becomes apparent that Adam West did not “create” this particular performance type FOR the character of Batman and his alter-ego Bruce Wayne – but had pretty much practiced it throughout the years leading up to the series. Indeed, the 1966 television persona of Batman might very well have been created to suit the singular talents of Adam West – rather than the other way around.
Consider the Three Stooges film “The Outlaws Is Coming”, co-starring Adam West. There, his male-lead character IS unquestionably the Bruce Wayne / Batman persona… in a film released in 1965, the year PRIOR TO the BATMAN television series.
In PERRY MASON’s “The Case of the Bogus Books” (1962), West’s character somehow manages to be “square” (though heroically-intentioned) even though he carries around a guitar!
And, in THE OUTER LIMITS’ “The Invisible Enemy” (1964), he turns in a performance that, at times, would make William Shatner blush! A performance not all that far from the Batman in his future!
Funny that my three-item “West-Fest”, intended as nothing more than my usual sort of tribute to a favorite departed figure – with an emphasis on his pre-Batman roles, ends up revealing all the more about exactly what went into creating his forever-unique take on the Caped Crusader!
Over the last quarter-century, Adam West enjoyed a tremendous resurgence in popularity, which I believe began with his guest-voicing role in the BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES episode “Beware the Grey Ghost”.
From there, he went on to many live action and voice acting roles – the most famous and enduring of which would be “Mayor Adam West” on FAMILY GUY!
Aw, heck… HERE is his extensive list of credits at IMDB!
The final, full-circle steps of the resurgence of both Adam West and his version of Batman was this comic book…
...This amazing classic series Blu-ray release...
…And this new animated DVD, featuring the voices of Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar! (…With one more like it, guest-starring William Shatner as Two-Face, to come!)
I got to meet Adam West once, and he was every bit as wonderful as one would imagine him to be! That story is contained in THIS POST.
Rest in Peace, Adam West. Forever a beloved hero to legions of fans!