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Life Under The Cowl | A Tribute To Adam West

Written by  Published September 25, 2015 02:42
A voice replies with the enthusiasm of youth. "Atomic batteries to power!! Turbines to speed!!" and a confident response: "Roger! Ready to move out!" Adam West was born William West Anderson on September 19th, 1928 in Walla Walla Washington. His parents were Otto West Anderson and Audrey V. Speer. West's paternal grandparents were Swedish. West attended Walla Walla High School for his freshman and sophomore years, before enrolling in Seattle's Lakeside School. West went to Whitman College in Walla Walla where he earned both a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Literature and a minor in Psychology. West was a member of the Gamma Zeta Chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and participated in the Speech and Debate teams.

west adam1

West ended up being drafted into the United States Army. During his time of military service, West served as an announcer on American Forces Network Television. While living in Hawaii, West was hired for the role of the sidekick on a children's show called "El Kini Popo Show", which featured a chimp! West went on to become the star of the show.

In 1959, West moved to Hollywood, and decided to take the stage name Adam West, with which he would be famous. In West's autobiography "Back To The Batcave", West explained how he came to pick the name. He simply liked how the name "Adam" sounded and looked alongside of the name "West". West's friends and family still call him Bill to this day. West starred with Paul Newman in the movie "The Young Philadelphians " and guest starred on several western shows. He played the famous Doc Holliday on no less than 3 TV westerns ( Doc Holliday was a frontier dentist and gunfighter). The shows were: "Sugarfoot", "Colt .45", and "Lawman". West also played Wild Bill Hickok on the "Westbound Stage" episode of the 1960 western series "Overlong Trail" with William Bendix and Doug McClure.

West guested on Edmund O'Brien's syndicated crime drama "Johnny Midnight". From there, West took an supporting role on "The Detectives" starring Robert Taylor. West played Police Sergeant Steve Nelson. West also appeared once on "The Real McCoys" and appeared several times on the "Perry Mason" TV Series in the early 1960s. West appeared "Laramie", "The Outer Limits" and "The Rifleman".

Batman starring Adam West actor as Bruce Wayne alias Batman super hero and Burt Ward actor as Dick Grayson alias Robin his side kick

West made a brief appearance in the film "Soldier In The Rain" which starred Steve McQueen and Jackie Gleason. West played Major Dan McCready, the ill fated mission commander of "Mars Gravity Probe 1" in the 1964 movie "Robinson Crusoe On Mars" and in 1965, he starred with the Three Stooges in their last feature film "The Outlaws Is Coming". West's straight performance in that movie helped him land the role that he would be forever associated with. The role of BATMAN! The legendary Caped Crusader!! The Nemesis Of Crime!!

It was between Adam West and Burt Ward, or future Carol Burnett Show and Wonder Woman regular Lyle Waggoner and a young man named Pete Deyell. Both sets of actors were screen tested, with West and Ward being chosen. West's razor straight delivery and Ward's youthful enthusiasm put them over the top. It didn't hurt that West had done a commercial for Nestle's Quick in which he played a tongue in cheek parody of James Bond called "Captain Q".

The Batman show had a three year run, and was almost given a forth season by a rival network. Sadly, the sets were already dismantled by then. Fans will just have to wonder what could have been. West, however, DID return to the role numerous times. West provided his voice for Batman in such shows as "Super Friends The Legendary Super Powers Show", "Super Powers Team The Galactic Guardians" and "The New Adventures Of Batman". West, alongside Ward and Frank "The Riddler" Gorshin, returned to the famous characters in 1979's "Legends Of The Super Heroes : The Challenge" and "Legends Of The Super Heroes : The Roast" (who could forget the image of Solomon Grundy pummeling Ed McMahon repeatedly while crying "SWAMP"?!). In 2003, they reunited again alongside Julie Newmar and Lee Merriweather for "Return To The Batcave - The Misadventures Of Adam And Burt ".

mayor adam west

In 1970, Adam West was offered the role of James Bond by Cubby Broccolli. West's first movie as Bond would have been 1971's "Diamonds Are Forever." West turned down the role. The reason? Because he believed that the role of James Bond should be played by a British actor. The point later became moot when Sean Connery returned to the role. West's first post Batman role was in 1969's "The Girl Who Knew Too Much". West played a cynical tough guy named Johnny Cain. The film was a box office disappointment. To make extra money, West started doing personal appearance in the Batman costume. West even appeared in "The Happy Hooker Goes To Washington" and other B-movies.

Adam West

West also appeared in such TV series as: "The Big Valley", "Night Gallery ", "Emergency", "Alice", "Laverne & Shirley", "Bewitched " , "Police Woman", "Vega$" and more. In 2010, A Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California Walk Of Stars was dedicated to Adam West, and in April 5, 2012 Adam West received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. West's star is located at 6764 Hollywood Blvd in front of Guinness Museum.

West was interviewed for the PBS Pioneers of Television in Season 3's "Super Heroes" in 2013. West also plays the role of "Mayor West" on Family Guy. Also in 2013 , West as the subject of the documentary "Starring Adam West ". On September 19th, 2015 Adam West celebrated his 87th birthday!

Adam West was/is yet another person who made my childhood awesome! So, I dedicate the column to Mr. Adam West! 

Bryan Frazier

Bryan W. Frazier has been reading and collecting comic books for the past forty years! He has a love and fondness for the Vintage Comic Books, Comic Strips, Magazines, Books, Toys, TV Shows and Movies, and even radio shows  of the past (paying particular loving attention to the Pop Culture of the 70’s and 80’s! His personal “glory days”). He has two little poochies named Leyna and Layla, and an as yet unfinished novel  that he hope to turn into a series someday. His column is "Old School" and so is he!! He is Bryan W. Frazier -- Mr. Bronze Age!

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