Batman and Family Guy star Adam West dies at 88


Adam West, the actor best known for playing Batman in the iconic 1960s TV show and voicing his mayor alter-ego on Family Guy, died at the age of 88.

Adam West died Friday night in Los Angeles, after a fight with leukemia.

In 1966, producer William Dozier cast West in the role of Batman after seeing him play a James Bond-esque spy character in a Nestle Quik commercial named Captain Q. The absurdly campy Batman ran from 1966 to 1968, with West as the World’s Greatest Detective and Burt Ward as his consort, Robin the Boy Wonder. Adam West’s portrayal of the Dark Knight is one of the most memorable and famous in the entire history of the character.

He was born William West Anderson on September 19, 1928, in Walla Walla, Washington. In college, he worked at a radio station and performed in local theater. After a stint in the military, he moved to Hawaii to pursue a career in television.

In 1959, West moved with his family to Hollywood, where he adapted the stage name Adam West. Under contract with Warner Bros., the natural-born performer played a number of roles on shows like Colt .45, Sugarfoot, Cheyenne, Johnny Midnight, and The Detectives. His early film roles include The Young Philadelphians (1959), Geronimo (1962), and The Outlaws is Coming (1965).

After Batman was cancelled in 1968 after three seasons, West struggled unsuccessfully against typecasting, appearing as a guest star in many different TV shows and the films The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971), Hooper (1978), and The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood (1980). He reprised his iconic Batman role multiple times, starting in 1977 animated show The New Adventures of Batman. He took up the Batman cowl again in the live action TV special Legends of the Superheroes (1979).

West again filled the public eye when was cast as the voice of Mayor Adam West, an “alternate universe Adam West” in Seth MacFarlane’s show Family Guy (2000-2017). Most of the actor’s other roles have been guest roles in TV, oftentimes playing himself as often as he played original characters.

The Adam West incarnation of Batman is one that will always remain with us. Since Christopher Nolan’s hyper-realistic revival of the character in Batman Begins (2005), film versions of DC Comics characters have been plagued with an epidemic of grit.

“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero” said West’s family in a statement.

A good way to describe the DC movies made in recent years, such as The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, and Batman vs. Superman, is “depressing.” Sure, too much camp can be a bad thing (cough cough, Batman and Robin, cough), but purely depressing and thoroughly dark comic book movies are no fun. The 1960s Batman, as silly and simple as it is, is a reminder not to take ourselves too seriously, especially in our society’s recent years of postmodern pessimism.

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“The Bright Knight,” was the hero that we certainly didn’t deserve, but the one we sure need right now. Farewell, Adam West. You are already missed.