Adam West, who played TV's 'Batman,' dies at 88

Los Angeles Times June 10. 2017 6:44PM
Actor Adam West, who portrayed the title character in the 1960's television series "Batman," poses atop the original Batmobile used in the hit series during an appearance at the first annual RetroFest in Santa Monica, Calif., Aug. 14, 1999. (REUTERS/Staff/File Photo)

Adam West, who donned a cape, cowl and tights to became an overnight sensation in 1966 as the star of the campy "Batman" TV series, has died, his family said. He was 88.

West, who later lamented being typecast as the Caped Crusader, but eventually embraced having been part of American pop culture, died Friday in Los Angeles. He had leukemia, according to multiple reports.

A former Warner Bros. contract player, West was appearing in TV commercials in the mid-1960s when he caught the attention of 20th Century Fox TV producer William Dozier, who was looking for someone to star as Gotham City millionaire Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter-ego, Batman, in a farcical new series for ABC.

With West as the strait-laced crime fighter and Burt Ward as his youthfully exuberant sidekick, Robin, "Batman" was a pop culture phenomenon in a decade that was full of them.

"This whole thing is an insane, mad fantasy world," West said of the show in a Chicago Daily News interview shortly before its debut. "And my goal is to become American's biggest put-on."

It was high camp indeed, with fight scenes punctuated by comic book-style "POW!" "BOP!" and "WHAP!" exclamations flashing on the screen and an collection of guest-star villains that included Frank Gorshin as the Riddler, Burgess Meredith as the Penguin, Cesar Romero as the Joker and Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt as Catwoman.

In June 1966, The Los Angeles Times reported that "Batman" had been a "life-transforming" success for West: Fan mail was arriving "by the wagonsful" as were requests for personal appearances and even locks of his hair.


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