Original 'Batman' Star Adam West Dies at Age 88

Saturday, 10 June 2017 - 3:08PM
Batman
Saturday, 10 June 2017 - 3:08PM
Original 'Batman' Star Adam West Dies at Age 88
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ABC
Adam West, a comedy and superhero legend who spent over half a century appearing as either Batman or as himself, died in Los Angeles last night at 88, following a struggle with leukemia. 

West is most well known for his iconic role as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the comedic 1966 Batman movie and the TV show that followed it, with its catchy opening theme and punchy fight scenes with onscreen "Wham!" sound effects. He would appear as Batman in various incarnations and parodies over the decades, and while many actors have since played the role, West was the first to make a star out of the Dark Knight.



West started his acting career doing mostly Westerns, appearing in most of the major genre shows at the time from Bonanza to Gunsmoke. But his career finally took off with the 1966 Batman movie, where West took on a deadpan attitude alongside Burt Ward's Robin as they battled the Joker, Catwoman, Riddler and Penguin. Audiences loved watching Batman frantically attempt to get rid of a giant bomb while baby strollers, ducklings and old ladies kept blocking his path, and a show soon followed which lasted for three seasons. 



He disagreed with the later portrayals of the character, as Batman gradually grew darker in tone with Tim Burton's Batman or Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. Even if he played the Dark Knight, he didn't see Batman as the dark character he's since become, something his family reminisced on in a statement, "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."

For a long time, West was so iconic as Batman that he had difficulty getting other roles. Filmmakers and producers constantly worried that audiences would be taken out of the story when Bruce Wayne walks onscreen, essentially limiting West to Batman-related roles if he wanted to find work. He'd once told Variety how he eventually learned to embrace those roles and have fun with them, leading to his many parodies on shows like The Simpsons, The Fairly OddParents and Family Guy:

Opening quote
"There was a time when Batman really kept me from getting some pretty good roles, and I was asked to do what I figured were important features. However, Batman was there, and very few people would take a chance on me walking on to the screen. And they'd be taking people away from the story. So I decided that since so many people love Batman, I might as well love it too. Why not? So I began to reengage myself with Batman. And I saw the comedy. I saw the love people had for it, and I just embraced it."
Closing quote






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