Saturday, June 10, 2017

Adam West (1928-2017)

Of all the actors who have portrayed Bruce Wayne and his crimefighting, caped crusading alter ego Batman on (and off) camera, the third one, Adam West, is probably the most memorable and the most beloved.

A big part of my 1980s childhood (from reruns of the 1960s television series and motion picture), West is one of those actors I wish I had the chance to interview when I was a newspaper and magazine entertainment writer in the 1990s and 2000s.

Short of that, I got the next best thing – a 1966 Batman credit card with West's personalized autograph (as both himself and Batman) that I bought from West through his Web site a couple of years ago.

After the Batmania craze ended in the late 1960s, West returned to the role several times in animated form along with his co-star Burt Ward as Dick Grayson/Robin. The two also reunited for a semi-autobiographical, live-action TV movie in the early 2000s and most recently voiced their characters for an animated film set during the original show's era and released last year for the 50th anniversary.

West also received late-career notoriety playing himself on an episode of The Simpsons and an even more outlandish version – Mayor Adam West – on Family Guy.

Of all the Batmen before and after West, the ones with the most historical distinction are the first actor to play Batman (Lewis Wilson in the 1943 movie serial Batman) and the first actor to play Batman since West (Michael Keaton in the 1989 movie Batman, 21 years after the end of the TV series).

But the one Batman to rule them all is Adam West, who truly will be Batman forever.

--Raj Manoharan

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