Adam West, star of the popular 1960s Batman TV series, died on Friday night in Los Angeles after a short 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.
Our beloved AW passed away last night. He was the greatest. We’ll miss him like crazy. We know you’ll miss him too – West Family pic.twitter.com/8bkEq1C2ao
— Adam West (@therealadamwest) June 10, 2017
Born on September 19 in Washington, West’s real name was William West Anderson. He began work as a sidekick on a show for children, adopting the stage name Adam West. In a career that spanned nearly seven decades, West was mostly known for his role as Batman in the TV series despite having played numerous roles in other films.
The actor was discovered in a Nestle Quik commercial playing a James Bond-esque character that got him shortlisted for the Batman series. He had featured in a number of TV series and movies before that, including a role in the last feature film the Three Stooges acted in – The Outlaws Is Coming (1965).
When the Batman series ended, West found it difficult to get work that did not involve him playing Batman.
“The people who were hiring, the people who were running the studios, running the shows, were dinosaurs,” the actor said in the 2013 documentary Starring Adam West. “They thought Batman was a big accident, that there was no real creative thought, expertise or art behind it. They were wrong.”
He, however, did a number of voice-overs for TV shows including cartoons like The New Adventures of Batman, Legends of the Superheroes, SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and The Simpsons.
From 2000, West made regular appearances on the animated series Family Guy, in which he played Mayor Adam West, the lunatic mayor of Quahog. His role gave him a new wave of popularity since Batman, and lead writer Seth MacFarlane claims to have gone out of his way to avoid typecasting West by deliberately not making any references to Batman.
Some of his latest voice-over performances include the Disney animation film Meet the Robinsons, and the cartoon show SpongeBob SquarePants, in which he voiced the Young Mermaid Man in the episode “Back to the Past”.
West has been married thrice, having divorced the first two times. He is survived by his wife Marcelle Tagand Lear and six children.
Celebrities react to West’s death:
Star Wars actor Mark Hamill called him a “wonderful actor”.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) June 10, 2017
Ben Affleck, who is the new Batman, called him a “hero.
Adam West exemplified heroism. Kind, funny and an all around great guy. Thank you for showing us all how it’s done. @therealadamwest
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) June 10, 2017
Talk show host Conan O’Brien, who had him on his show once, said it was a “rare honour” to have known him
God Bless Adam West pic.twitter.com/9OK7kHNZHS
— Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien) June 10, 2017
Jim Carrey recalled his childhood days with Batman.
When I was a kid POW BLAM Adam West was Batman! With his pal Robin and his tongue planted firmly in his cheek he brought me so much joy. ;^}
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) June 11, 2017
Neil Gaiman paid tribute to his childhood hero.
A love letter to Adam West, Frank Gorshin & my childhood. (I bought the page from Bernie Mirault. Years later I gave it to my oldest son) pic.twitter.com/4SElullg3u
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) June 10, 2017
Lego Toys paid tribute too.
The Bright Knight, a hero to all. Adam West 1928-2017 pic.twitter.com/omvn6ddWjz
— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) June 10, 2017
Pic: Wikipedia/Getty Images