The world is less fun today. Adam West, TV's Batman has died. He passed Friday, June 9th, 2017. I have written a full bio for Adam West before, so I will give only the more salient facts here. Adam West was born on September 19th, 1928 in Walla Walla Washington. West was drafted into the Unite States Army, where he served as an announcer on Armed Forces Network Television.
After being honorably discharged, West worked for a while as a milkman until he moved to Hawaii to try his luck at being an actor. He soon co-starred in a film ("The Young Philadelphians") with Paul Newman. After that West guest starred in several TV westerns. And, then--West got the role that would make him world famous! West was given the starring role in 1966's soon to be smash hit--BATMAN! The role had a dark side, and the instant success would prove to typecast West in the role. West managed to land roles in films such as 'Marriage Of A Young Stockbroker" and "Hooper" among others. West even returned to the Batman role on occasion. West turned to voiceover work in later years. One of his most famous voice roles was as "Mayor West" On TV's "Family Guy" series.
Adam West died of leukemia at the age of 88. Several of the Facebook groups to which I belong have been posting farewells for Adam all weekend. The Batman 66 TV Show group has of course been very prolific in expressing their grief over Adam's passing. I decided that the only way for me to offer tribute to Adam West is to tell of what he meant to me personally. I have been an Adam West fan from a very young age. I well remember racing home from my old Elementary school in order to commandeer he TV so I could watch BATMAN! Sometimes I would have to settle for watching the show on the old 13 inch black and white set in my Mother's bedroom. Either way I was enthralled! When the series finished its run, they would start all over again!
I watched and re-watched each episode over and over again. I loved the "derring do" (as the Joker would say) of Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder! I liked the flashy and colorful costumes and the villains crazy plots. The actors that played the heinous and dastardly villains were perfect ! Burgess Meredith as the rascally Penguin, Julie Newmar as the slinky Catwoman, Cesar Romero as the cunning and wild Joker, the manic energy of the Riddler, that Prince Of Puzzlers, Victor Buono as the voluminous King Tut and so many more!
The show led to buying the comic books, toys and other merchandise. My first Batman comic book was Batman #281 -- "Murder Comes In Black Boxes". Batman versus some "secret police" and of course I wanted more! I never had any problem with the differences in the way Batman was portrayed in the various medias. I accepted that the Batman of the TV series, the comic book, the two cartoons ( "The Super Friends" and "The New Adventures Of Batman" of course) were from differing "universes".
The 1966 Batman TV Show was instrumental in getting the MEGO Toy Company to take a chance and release the much beloved Super Hero Action Figures line. Much of the initial figures were/are Batman related! Those figures were so popular, that MEGO started making figures of other TV shows, books and fictional characters. So, I (and thousands of other children) have the show to thank for the many many happy hours we all spent crafting adventures for our heroes. Those happy days would not have happened without Adam West! It was Adam's serious take on the absurdities of the situation that made the show as popular. Adam played Batman straight and that gave weight to the show. Had Adam played it strictly for laughs, the show would not be so fondly remembered over 50 years later. I have a funny story to relate about my childhood and my love of the show.
I was born in 1969. My Grandfather was born in 1889. So his early childhood years were those of the 1890's. Mine were the then current 1970's . In other words , we were worlds apart in our youthful experiences . My Grandfather loved flowers as I do my books . His whole yard was COVERED in flowers of every sort . I still remember being in the yard with my Grandfather one day. A small tree had fallen sometime before. I ran up, jumped upon the stump and said "Look Grandpa! I'm BATMAN!!" This was accompanied by me throwing punches in the air and exclaiming: "POW!", "BAM!" and "KAPOW!" My Grandfather, having NO idea of what I was doing, just shook his head and I'm sure thought his young Grandson had lost his mind!
Adam West meant so much to his legions of fans from all over the world. Adam always delighted in meeting them! By all reports, Adam was an engaging and outgoing with the fans and always made them feel good. Adam gave them a great experience in meeting thier hero. It was an experience that they will always remember! I owe so much of my childhood to Adam. He will be missed for always! Mr. Bronze Age salutes the late, great Mr. Adam West! R.I.P. Mr. West.