On June 9, the world lost a hero. Iconic actor Adam West, best known for his role as Batman, died at the age of 88.
In an interview with Variety magazine, West’s family revealed that he had been suffering from leukemia. After a short battle with the disease, he passed away in Los Angeles surrounded by loved ones, including his wife, six children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Before there was Keaton, Kilmer, or Clooney, there was West. Born in 1928 in Walla Walla, Washington, West began acting in the 1950s. He became the pinnacle of 1960s pop culture with his portrayal of the caped crusader in the campy television series “Batman.”
West was first discovered and considered for the Batman role via a Nestle’s Quik commercial, in which he played the suave Captain Quick. “Batman” producer William Dozier approached West with the pilot script, and the rest is history. His role as the beloved DC superhero made his career…and almost ended it. After the series was cancelled, West, who had become the victim of typecasting, had difficulty finding work.
Unable to find steady acting work, West bounced between the big and small screens for years, taking on roles in obscure movies and television shows that often flopped. He even resorted to dawning the cape and cowl and making special appearances alongside the batmobile at car shows, conventions, and carnivals. At Comic-Con in 2014, West told his audience that he feared the cancellation of “Batman” had been the end of him, but he soon realized that that wasn’t the case.
“I look around and see the adults; I see you grew up with me, and you believe in the adventure,” said West. “I’m the luckiest actor in the world, folks, to have you still hanging around.”
West’s acting troubles were over when he found regular work on the popular animated adult television series “Family Guy.” His character, the campy and quirky mayor Adam West, became a series regular and a fan favorite. Having worked with West in the past, “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane all but jumped at the chance to make him a part of his show.
“When ‘Family Guy’ came around and Seth became brilliantly successful, he decided to call me and see what I was doing,” West said in a 2012 interview. “He asked if I would like to come aboard as the mayor, and I thought it would be neat to do something sort of absurd and fun.”
West first appeared in “Family Guy” in the year 2000 during the show’s second season and remained a major part of the series up until his passing, marking a 17-year run. Upon hearing of the actor’s death, MacFarlane shared an emotional statement on Twitter.
“’Family Guy’ has lost its mayor, and I have lost a friend. Adam West was a joy to work with, and the kind of guy you always wanted around…he knew comedy and he knew humanity,” said MacFarlane. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Mayor. You’re irreplaceable.”
Other important figures from West’s life have shared their feelings on social media, including friends, family, fans, and co-stars.
“He was bright, witty, and fun to work with,” said Julie Newmar, who starred alongside West as Cat Woman in “Batman.” “I will miss him in the physical world and savor him always in the world of imagination and creativity. He meant so much to people.”
Fans from all generations will recognize West from numerous cameo appearances in popular television shows, including “The Simpsons,” “The King of Queens,” “The Fairly Oddparents,” and “The Big Bang Theory” to name a few. He and his beloved and memorable characters have impacted and inspired many individuals throughout the years.
Actor Burt Ward, who played the Robin to West’s Batman said it best when he told Variety “I will forever miss him. There are several fine actors who have portrayed Batman in films. In my eyes, there was only one real Batman that is and always will be Adam West. He was truly the Bright Knight.”