I realize it’s been a little while now, but I had to do a little tribute to actor Adam West, who as you know passed away on June 9th. Adam’s Batman was to all his fans what Spock was to Trekkers; a beloved character, an inspiration, and an overall a hero. I loved Adam West’s voice, and how he made Batman a lovable hero, (if a bit goofy). Of course the 1966 TV show was pure parody, but it was a tonic the country needed from seeing the horror of Vietnam on the nightly news.
As Batman came out the same year as Star Trek, my initial memories of it as a 5-year old were a bit sketchy. I recall watching it with my family at the “Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!” every week. In fact, Batman was so popular, it aired twice a week at one point! I remember I loved the animated opening, because any child could not resist a cartoon! I recall having a crush on Burt Ward (a.k.a. Robin) because he was the cool teenager, and being a bit creeped out by The Joker. It was funny when the dynamic duo would climb up the buildings, and we all wondered why The Joker had a mustache under his makeup! (Cesar Romero refused to shave his trademark lip fuzz). We all thought it was pretty silly and never took it as seriously as Trek but it sure was fun escapism.
As I grew older and saw it in reruns, I remember finding it a bit embarrassing to watch (Bat-Tusi anyone?) but I did begin to appreciate the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere of the whole thing, and West really knew how to play it up! I only wish Batman could have married Catwoman! It appears that West agreed with me, when asked what Batman story he’d write:
“My Bruce Wayne would have been romancing Catwoman with a brandy snifter full of milk. Then he would have said something silly, like “Man cannot live on milk alone.”
After Batman, West had trouble getting roles because of the typecasting Batman gave him, but he remained optimistic:
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am to those fans. They are not stupid. I think they appreciate my sincerity and my work. Actors want to be loved. Batman (1966) has done that for me. I have an audience out there which is always waiting to see whatever I do. And new generations are constantly discovering me in reruns. So, as long as I stay sharp, good things can still happen for me. Meanwhile, I keep hoping that a wonderful opportunity will come along. Believe me, my life ain’t so bad, after all.”
And eventually, he found many a role after Batman, and had rarely been out of work right up to his passing last month. He also remained remarkably young-looking, even as he struggled with leukemia at the end.
Before Batman, West even had a Star Trek connection! He and Bill Shatner appeared in the short-lived series-turned TV Movie Alexander the Great with Shatner in the lead and West as Cleander. Here’s the whole movie!
On June 16th the city of Los Angeles beamed the Bat Signal onto city hall. I can’t imagine a better tribute to this beloved actor. <3 Rest in Peace.