Adam West, the star of TV’s popular and campy “Batman” TV show in the ’60s, has died, according to his agent. West was 88.
The West Family announced on Adam’s verified Facebook page that he passed away Friday night after a “short but brave” battle with Leukemia.
The part was a signature role, for West, who played Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, the crime-fighting, costumed Batman, a popular comics character who came to life on the ABC-TV series. The show, with a catchy — some might say aggravating — theme song, earned a cult following.
The series, which lasted three seasons and enjoyed an afterlife in syndication, made West internationally famous.
Later in life, West made appearances on the animated series “Family Guy” as Mayor Adam West, the oddball leader of Quahog, Rhode Island.
West was born William West Anderson in Walla Walla, Washington, where he later earned a degree in literature and psychology from Whitman College.
A memorable voice
West worked as a disc jockey and developed a dramatic and memorable voice, which he bestowed upon the Caped Crusader.
“If I pick up a telephone and make an international call, the operator knows my voice immediately, as does everybody else,” he told CNN in an interview two years ago.
West also pulled off a wacky intellectual shtick on the show, demonstrating his strong command of vocabulary.
“Catwoman, I find you to be odious, abhorrent and insegrevious,” he told one memorable villain.
The list of entertaining thugs who played opposite West was long and illustrious: actresses Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt played Catwoman; Cesar Romero played the Joker; Burgess Meredith played the Penguin; and Frank Gorshin and John Astin played the Riddler.
Batman’s sidekick was Boy Wonder Robin, who as Dick Grayson was Bruce Wayne’s ward — played by Burt Ward.
The Batman character “has to be mature enough to have a ward, he’s a mentor or he has adopted a son, so to speak,” West once said.
Typecast but not bitter
West earned his share of acting parts over the years. To no one’s surprise, he got typecast, but he wasn’t at all bitter.
“When you wear a mask and funny tights, … it gets a little frustrating from time to time,” West said. “I was turned down for a number of parts over the years, I feel, because of that.”
“Wherever I go in the world, there’s such a wonderful rapport with our Batman that it’s neat,” he said. “People come up and play entire scenes for me unsolicited, but I got to laugh. … How lucky can a person get to be part of something that is a classic.”
Cartoons revived his career, and West fit right in with “Family Guy.”
“We get asked all the time at ‘Family Guy,’ do we have a lot of drugs lying around the office? No, we have Adam West,” the show’s creator Seth McFarlane said.
A few years ago, West was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“I think I have the record as the actor who has waited the longest to get his star on the sidewalk,” he said.