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RIP Adam West (Actor, icon… Batman)

RIP, Adam West, Batman

Adam West, the man who would forever be linked with the 1960s version of ‘Batman‘ has passed away. John Mosby remembers meeting the man behind the mask…

The family of Adam West announced this weekend that the veteran actor had lost his fight against leukemia at the age of 88.

It’s with great sadness that we are sharing this news…Adam West passed away peacefully last night after a short but brave battle with leukemia. He was a beloved father, husband, grandfather, and great-grandfather. There are no words to describe how much we’ll miss him. We know you’ll miss him too and we want you to know how much your love and support meant to him throughout the years. Hug your loved ones today. 
 – The West Family

The actor made numerous appearances in television series through the years – including 77 Sunset StripMaverick, BonanzaThe Rifleman and 1962’s The Detectives. But West was, of course, the man that a generation remembers as Batman. The series went the ‘camp crusader’ route and in doing so created both a skew towards the ridiculous but also a massive cultural phenomenon – reaching more people across the world than the popular comics themselves. But when the show was cancelled after two seasons, West found he was stereotyped and less able to find work.

That being said, he was happy to join the blossoming convention circuit to meet each new generation of fans the show delivered and as well as guest-starring appearances on varied television shows (most recently in the likes of The Big Bang Theory  – helping them celebrate their 200th episode and Powerless). He found a second career in voice work – returning to the Batman character for the likes of Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader. but also sent up his persona as ‘Mayor Adam West’ in Family Guy. 

But Batman was a role from which West never truly escaped and he fully embraced the character over the years, celebrating his part in the character’s history and bemoaning – politely but firmly – the darker take the character had returned to in the decades since.

“I’m not judgmental about that stuff because it’s just not our vision. We did our own thing and they’re on their trip and that’s fine. Our version is much more for the whole family. It was such a success in Britain because… well, the British wit. A few countries don’t ‘get’ the Batman series, but I think that people in the States and Britain know just what we were trying to do,” he told me when I met him for an interview in the early 1990s, just as he was releasing his autobiography, Back to the Batcave. “We pitched the series on several levels, for the kids and the adults as well. So with every generation it goes on, just like the tide, in and out. It was an exciting thing for me to do… to come in and work with over 250 guest-stars, maybe more than anyone else in Hollywood has! It was challenging to say the least and they were always such great talents, really professional and creative people.”

His co-star, Burt Ward who played Robin the Boy Wonder in the series, told Fox News that:

“…Adam and I had a special friendship for more than 50 years. 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.”

Julie Newmar, one of the actors who essayed Catwoman for the show, echoed Ward’s words in a statement. “Stellar, exemplar, a king to the end. He was bright, witty, and fun to work with. I will miss him in the physical world and savor him always in the world of imagination and creativity.”

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