Batman Icon Adam West Dies, Aged 88

Adam West

by James White |
Published on

A big part of many people's childhoods; a man beloved for his knowing, straight-arrow take on an iconic character and always wise, warm, witty and happy to poke fun at himself has died of leukemia. Adam West was 88.

Born William West Anderson in Walla Walla in Washington on the West Coast of the States in September 1928, he expressed a desire to perform (his mother had been an opera singer) at an early age. Yet he studied literature and psychology in college and was drafted into the US Army. As part of his service, he worked as an announcer on American Forces Network television, and, following his time in the military, he was a milkman before moving to Hawaii to pursue work on TV.

After nabbing a role as a sidekick on kids' series El Kini Popo Show, he eventually graduated to being its star, and then moved to Hollywood with his family, taking the stage name Adam West. He made guest appearances on various Western series and in the film The Young Philadelphians.

But it was being cast in the 1960s Batman show (and its launch TV movie) that really put West on the map. The campy series saw him playing the character seriously, yet well aware of the tone around him. Alongside Burt Ward as Robin, he carved himself a place in pop culture history, even if the role did end up typecasting him for a few years. Ward paid tribute after hearing of West's death. "I am devastated at the loss of one of my very dearest friends. Adam and I had a special friendship for more than 50 years," he said. "We shared some of the most fun times of our lives together; our families have deep love and respect for each other. This is a terribly unexpected loss of my lifelong friend, I will forever miss him. There are several fine actors who have portrayed Batman in films, in my eyes there was only one real Batman and that is and always will be Adam West; He was truly the Bright Knight."

Despite his close association with the Caped Crusader, he found plenty of work on film and TV after the series ended, and contributed voices to plenty of animated projects. To younger viewers, he was best known as the voice of Quahog in Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy, playing a crazed version of himself. "Family Guy has lost its mayor, and I have lost a friend,” MacFarlane wrote on Twitter. "Adam West was a joy to work with, and the kind of guy you always wanted to be around. His positivity, good nature, and sense of fun were undeniable, and it was always a big jolt of the best kind of energy when he walked in to record the show.

"He knew comedy, and he knew humanity. I am beyond fortunate to have had the privilege of working with him, and he will be profoundly missed by all of us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have given, Mr. Mayor. You’re irreplaceable."

West is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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