6 months ago
For many American of a certain age, it’s the loss of a part of their childhood.
Adam West, an actor who never completely escaped the shadow of signature role as the title hero in the 1960s TV series, Batman, died Friday night in Los Angeles after a battle with leukemia.
He was 88.
“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 announcing West’s death.
He is best known, of course, for playing Batman in the popular campy series that ran on ABC from 1966 to 1968. In its first season, the show was nothing less than a pop culture phenomenon—but that success proved analogous to one of Two-Face’s two-sided coins. West complained that he became typecast, forever associated with the role and unable to land a job for years after Batman went off the air.
But he eventually learned to live with that Bat-shadow, becoming a fixture on the comic convention circuit, greeting fans that made pilgrimages to meet their hero.
“Some years ago I made an agreement with Batman,” West later told Variety. “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.”
West also was unhappy that he wasn’t considered to reprise his role for Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie, disenchanted with the general dark direction the character veered over the years.
In later years, though, West had a bit of a resurgence with a regular voice role on the animated series, Family Guy, as Mayor Adam West.