The 1960s Batman TV Series has always held a special place in my heart- ever since I started watching the brief reruns on WNYW/Channel 5 during the 1984-85 season as well as during the summer of Batmania in 1989 on WPIX 11. I had a hard time when Yvonne Craig died back in 2015 as her Batgirl remains one of my favorite live-action super hero characters to this day. As you have no doubt heard- Adam West died this past weekend- I never got to meet the man, but I always had fun with his take on the Caped Crusader. That being said, I was definitely attached to his version of the Caped Crusader possibly more than any other live-action interpretation to date. (Michael Keaton is a close 2nd as I still love the two Tim Burton films to this day.) Adam played Batman relatively straight compared to the actors who played his over-the-top villainous counterparts like Burgess Meredith or Cesar Romero, though West had his fair share of zany too- such as the show defining Bat-Tusi dance from the very first episode of the series.
Comic book fans haven’t always been kind to the 1960s series over the years, but thanks to Adam West, Batman permeated pop culture- he was everywhere in the 1960s- from lunchboxes to trading cards, different toys and more. Most people of that generation will likely tell you that they got into Batman because of Adam West and the ABC show. It may have been tarnished somewhat when DC decided to return Batman to his gritty roots in the 70s, but campy, humorous Batman has a place in DC’s history books as well. West’s portrayal definitely brought a different dimension to the historically dark character and fans ate that up- even down to this day with new merchandise still being released for the show.
Everyone has their heroes- I was at a convention with a friend this weekend, where he got to meet one of his personal childhood heroes. That was where I found out about Adam West’s passing. I didn’t want to believe it, especially as he was scheduled to appear at a convention in August- but somehow I knew it was true. I don’t think the weight of it has settled in yet- I will say this much though- the Adam West/Burt Ward series definitely shaped my perceptions of what Batman should be as well as which other characters I expect to see in a good Batman adaptation- this includes The Joker. Catwoman, The Penguin and the Riddler as well as Barbara Gordon’s version of Batgirl. All of these characters were made important due to the success of the TV show and DC used them as definitive Batman villains and allies going forward from 1968 to the present. Adam’s Batman, as well as Burt Ward’s Robin and of course Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl, were just a few of my childhood heroes- there’s definitely others, but this particular trio was always special to me and it is a reminder of one’s mortality when your heroes start dying.
For many, Adam West will forever be remembered as Batman, younger generations will know him as Mayor West from Family Guy. Some may even recall his work with Batman: The Animated Series as the Grey Ghost, Bruce Wayne’s childhood idol. No matter what role, Adam West has earned the right to be considered a legend due to his part in the nearly 80 year legacy of Batman. Whether he was playing the suave debonair millionaire or the strait-laced boy scout of a crimefighter, Adam West will always be a part of my childhood and I will keep his Batman interpretation close to my heart. Thanks for the memories, Adam- rest in peace.