Adam West — an actor defined and also constrained by his role in the 1960s series “Batman” — died Friday night in Los Angeles. He was 88. A rep said that he died after a short battle with leukemia.
“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.
West became known to a new generation of TV fans through his recurring voice role on Fox’s “Family Guy” as Mayor Adam West, the horribly corrupt, inept and vain leader of Quahog, Rhode Island. West was a regular on the show from 2000 through its most recent season. West in recent years did a wide range of voice-over work, on such shows as Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken” and Disney Channel’s “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.”
But it was his role as the Caped Crusader in the 1966-68 ABC series “Batman” that defined West’s career.
With its “Wham! Pow!” onscreen exclamations, flamboyant villains and cheeky tone, “Batman” became a surprise hit with its premiere on ABC in 1966, a virtual symbol of ’60s kitsch. The half-hour action comedy was such a hit that it aired twice a week on ABC at its peak. But within two seasons, the show’s popularity slumped as quickly as it soared.
West’s portrayal of the superhero and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, ultimately made it hard for him to get other roles, and while he continued to work throughout his career, options remained limited because of his association with the character.
Adam West’s Batman definitely wasn’t the sociopath we know and love today. His Batman had a kiddie show quality with lots of bright colors and ’60s go-go music:
Today’s Batman would mumble and drop you off a building. In a battle between the Dark Knight vs. the Bright Knight, the Batman of the ’60s would be destroyed.
But I was a kid in the ’60s, and my life revolved around the two days of Batman episodes in the middle of the week on ABC television. Same Bat time, same Bat channel.
Adam West and Burt Ward were in DC (the city, not the comic company) a year ago at Awesome Con, talking about the old days:
Another icon of my youth, gone.