Saturday, June 10, 2017

Adam West, R.I.P.

The elder statesman of the Batman legacy, Adam West, has passed away at the age of 88 after a short battle with leukemia on June 9, 2017. West, whose real name was William West Anderson, started out in show business as a local TV and radio personality in Hawaii. After making the move to Hollywood, he was cast in several Western movies and TV shows, most notably co-starring with The Three Stooges in The Outlaws Is Coming.

Appearing as the James Bond inspired Captain Q in a commercial for Nestle's Quik brought him to the attention of producer William Dozier, who cast him as Batman. A national frenzy of Batmania ensued, but due to weakening scripts in the second season and slashed production values in the third, the star turned ended quickly. Incredibly, he turned down an offer from producer Albert Broccoli to play James Bond in the 007 franchise.  West spent the next couple decades attempting to move beyond the Batman character, most notably in a featured role in the Burt Reynolds movie Hooper, but the big break comeback eluded him, and West always seemed to end up going back to the Batman character, in either personal appearances in the car show circuit, or via voice work in cartoons like Filmation's The New Adventures of Batman and Hanna-Barbera's Super Friends. The apex of this era were the two TV comedy specials Legends of the Superheroes, which were the very first live action version of the Justice League.

In recent years, West has seen a second act in popularity, with notable roles in productions such as Family Guy, The George Lopez Show, and others. And there was one last return to Batman, voicing the character in Batman 66: Return of the Caped Crusaders and its upcoming sequel, the tentatively titled Batman 66 vs Two-Face.

Former Catwoman Julie Newmar made the 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. He meant so much to people. A friend said: ‘The father that we wanted.’ That is a great gift, no matter how you live it.”

And West's long time partner in crime-fighting, Burt Ward, who played Robin, stated: “I am devastated at the loss of one my very dearest friends. 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 that is and always will be Adam West. He was truly the Bright Knight.”

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, let perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace. 

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