Adam West, best known as Batman from the iconic 1960’s television show, passed away today at the age of 88 after a short battle with leukemia.
The Batman series was iconic, despite its relatively short runtime (three seasons and a movie) and lived on for years as a staple in syndication. It’s strange, now, to think, but up until 1989 and Michael Keaton, Adam West was Batman — and the only Batman. The series remains important and enjoyable despite its camp, largely because West seemed to know exactly what he was doing. He doubled down on the earnestness and sincerity, giving the show the right touch and allowing iconic co-stars and villains their chance to shine as well.
For many years after the show’s cancellation, West was typecast and unable to find regular work. He found a new home as a recurring character on Family Guy — Adam West, Mayor of Quahog. Played with a similar zany abandon, West was a key part of setting the tone for the show. It was never clear if Mayor Adam West was actually the Adam West who played Batman, or just some guy named Adam West who got into all sorts of zany shenanigans.
Between all of that, West also did a huge amount of voicework for animation. With his distinct voice, it’s easy to see why. He appeared as everything from R. Kelly’s lawyer in The Boondocks to the Goosebumps series, but most of his appearances revolved around Batman. Who could forget his continued work on Superfriends as the Caped Crusader, or the numerous times he showed up on a show in some sort of homage. This would certainly include one of my favorite episodes of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast — “Batmantis” and his appearance on Animaniacs as “Spruce Wayne.” He also continued to show up in many of the Batman animated shows that have come since.
This was all a testament to his charm and affability. He will always be a Batman to so many of us. And so we leave you with one of the best moments from the 1966 Batman movie, of Adam West trying to get rid of a bomb: