June 9, 2017: Adam West, TV’s Batman, Dies

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Adam West in his most famous role

He appeared in dozens of films and television programs, but he will always be, first and foremost, Batman. Adam West, who starred as the Caped Crusader on the ABC-TV program from 1966-68, died June 9, 2017. The cause was leukemia, according to a statement by family members. West was 88.

“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,” his family said in a statement.

Born William West Anderson in Walla Walla, Wash., on Sept. 19, 1928, West acted in college and served in the armed forces before beginning his professional acting career in Hawaii. In 1959, he moved to Hollywood and quickly began landing roles in films, among them The Young Philadelphians, starring Paul Newman, as well as in TV Westerns. He also appeared in Perry Mason as well as comedies such as Bewitched, before landing the title role in Batman (who was, of course, the alter-ego of the wealthy Bruce Wayne).

Burt Ward as Robin (left), with West

The program, which incorporated campy graphics, found West and sidekick Burt Ward, playing Robin, fighting crime in Gotham City, a la the comic book, and turned West into a major star.

ABC began to air it twice a week, with the Thursday installment climbing to #5 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1965-66 season, and the Wednesday edition at #10.

Watch some clips from the series, with West as the crime-fighting hero

What a wild lineup at this 1966 event

The theme song, covered by many, was also ubiquitous, with the Marketts scoring the highest placement at #17 in 1966. Batman debuted on Jan. 12, 1966, and played for 120 episodes before ABC canceled it in March 1968, at the end of the third season, due to falling ratings.

Among the many guest artists who appeared on the program, often as villains, were Cesar Romero (The Joker), Burgess Meredith (The Penguin), Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt (both as Catwoman), Frank Gorshin (The Riddler) and even Milton Berle, Liberace and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Due to typecasting, West found trouble getting high-profile acting jobs post-Batman. He often returned to the character in cartoons and finally regained some of his stature when Seth MacFarlane cast him as the mayor in Family Guy.

To capture West at the height of his popularity, 20th Century Fox Records signed him to a recording contract and released a single, “Miranda” in Feb. 1966

Related: Roger Moore, another actor identified with a hero, also died in 2017

Watch Paul Revere and the Raiders on Batman

A documentary, Starring Adam West, focused on his career. West received a star on the Hollywood Hall of Fame in 2012.

Listen to the theme song played by none other than The Who

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  1. Marlitt
    #1 Marlitt 10 June, 2021, 22:24

    My favorite Batman scene was when he was dangling from a helicopter ladder over the ocean, a shark latched on his leg, he was punching the foam shark, then whipped out a can of bat anti- shark spray!! Priceless

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