It was four years ago today that the nation lost its "Bright Knight," and it has proven challenging to write a piece about the iconic Adam West (Batman, Family Guy). Each year seems to get a little easier, but keeping a clear head with all these memories and emotions of the TV's original Caped Crusader is challenging, today of all days. Born September 19th, 1928 in Walla Walla the young farmhand dreamt of bigger things. Co-hosting a children's television show with a monkey (The Kini Popo Show) and rocketing through space (Robinson Caruso on Mars) eventually led him to the role of a lifetime. In 1966 Batman was ubiquitous and Adam West was the king of Hollywood, but Hollywood can be a fickle mistress.
Typecast in tights West would struggle to find work once the hit show was off the air. For years fans of the "Caped Crusader", and of West himself, would flock to Auto Shows and Comic Cons for a chance to meet and chat with the Icon. In 2000 a small recurring role on Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy would jolt Adam's career and he was once again in the spotlight. Tragically, over fifty years since his Batman debut, we lost Adam West on July 9th, 2017, after a battle with leukemia and the world would never be the same. As a nickel and dime vigilante, I occasionally have the opportunity to meet and talk to a lot of different people from various industries. Some only know his hilarious turn as Quahog's Mayor, others have been influenced since childhood, but everyone knows who he is. Folks from all walks of life and tax brackets became emotional when asked and every answer was heartfelt. Here are a few of my favorites.
West's co-star and pal for more than fifty years, TV's Robin, Burt Ward (Batman, Return of the Caped Crusaders) remembers the first time they met: "Adam was a fantastic guy. A wonderful friend for 52 years. Somebody that my wife and I sorely miss. His humor. I mean, we met 15 minutes before our screen test together…I sat down next to him, and we started to talk. Within 5 minutes the two of us were laughing, and we never stopped laughing. We have had a wonderful friendship. He has got the most amazing sense of humor of anybody I have ever met."
Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League) fondly remembered his time working together with Adam: "I did, a long long time ago on an episode called Beware the Gray Ghost, and he played a character called the Gray Ghost. It was one of my childhood dreams to come true to work with Adam West. It was awesome." When pressed for five words, he paused and responded "No. I couldn't do that. Adam West means so much to me because he was my Batman. He was my gateway when I was a kid. To Superheroes in general. He was the first Batman I ever saw, the first Superhero I ever saw. I love that show dearly. And so he means more to me than I can put in words."
This part-time crime fighter was lucky enough to have met him once, in April of 2016. During a signing event, my sons and I were deep in the line, Cosplaying as Batman and Robin(s), to meet the legend. His thoughts, after 2 hours of signing autographs to see someone strolling up to his table, dressed as a character he played long ago, would be impossible to estimate. But he managed to make our brief interaction special. Pointing out the Batsuit to his manager Fred Adam whispered "I think that's Bruce Wayne, millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne." A true gentleman.
Adam West is so much more than we have listed here. In honor of his passing, you deserve to watch Starring Adam West. A charming and heartfelt look into the life of Adam West, his family, his career, and his efforts to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
RIP Old Chum.