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Adam West: 10 June 2017   6 comments

Posted at 10:56 pm in commentary

Some time late in 1965, or early in 1966 I was watching daytime TV. I never went to kindergarten, and hadn't started first grade yet, so at the time I was home all day with my mother. In general, she liked for me to be doing something, prefably outside, rather than watching TV, but it would have been cold out so I was watching game shows. Let's Make a Deal was always my favorite because of all the doors and the booby prizes, but I think this one was The Match Game. At any rate, it had a semi-celebrity panel playing the game, not that I knew who any of them were, and during the course of the game each of them got to casually drop a little promo for whatever their latest project was.

There was one guy who said he was going to star in a show called Batman which was premiering soon. There was some back and forth joking with the other panelists to the effect "Oh, so, you can turn into a bat, or what?", and that really stuck with me. I really wanted to see a show about a guy who could turn into a bat!

That little PR squib was, to the best of my memory, all I knew about "Batman". I knew who "Superman" was, of course, but "Batman" was a complete unknown quantity. I couldn't read at the time, so I didn't know comic books, and while I knew comic strips in the paper, "Batman" was not one of them. But I made sure my parents knew I wanted to see this new show when it came on, and was fully prepared for a show about a man who could turn into a bat. (I didn't realize how far beyond what a 1960s TV show could do an effect like that would be..). What I got, of course, was something completely different -- and thrilling: The Neil Hefti theme song, the animated opening sequence and the most noble and steely-eyed hero on televison. I was hooked from minute one, and I had *no* idea I was watching a comedy. I hung on Batman's noble words, thrilled at his (and Robin's) daring escapes and chilled at the colorful cast of scenery chewing villans...

The man on that game show, and behind the mask was, of course Adam West. An up and coming journeyman actor before the show, forever typecast after the show. In time he learned to get beyond the fact that the big roles never came again, and to embrace being "Adam West: Batman". He played the Gray Ghost on the classic animated Batman series, and recently returned for one more outing behind the (animated) mask last year in Return of the Caped Crusaders.

Away from the spotlights, he apparently lived a full and happy life. With that, and making the world a bit more four-colored and brighter, who can quarrel?

Written by ted on June 10th, 2017

6 Responses to 'Adam West: 10 June 2017'

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  1. What a great tribute, it’s interesting how every generation seems to have “their” Batman. If anyone is interested in the history of Batman, check out the book, “The Caped Crusade” by Glen Weldon, it’s a great history of Batman and how he relates to pop culture.

    In his book, Weldon mentions this YouTube clip that shows Adam West’s screen test, among others. You really can see how he owns the role from the beginning.

    You have to admire Adam West, he never seemed to resent playing Batman as other actors might have done.


    11 Jun 17 at 9:08 am

  2. Enjoy! He was my Favorite too.

    11 reasons Adam West is the best Batman ever
    From Lewis Wilson to Ben Affleck, many actors have portrayed Batman. But there is only one Adam West.

    Batman has been on the screen since 1943. Now, Ben Affleck has slipped on the cowl to growl and punch his Super Friend, Superman. Affleck is the eighth man to act as Bruce Wayne. He may be the tallest yet, but he is not the best. There can be only one true Batman. And that Batman is Adam West.

    He is the most colorful.

    As The Lego Movie pointed out so well, modern Batmen are dark, wrapped in black and gothic in mood. With his pops of bright yellow and two-tone costume, Adam West looks like the comic book crimefighter. He enjoys being Batman.

    He has the best costume.

    See reason No. 1. Those ears on the cowl are the perfect length. Which would you rather wear: this outfit or the Joel Schumacher version? Adam West sports blues and yellows. He is not a goth ninja.

    He has the best sidekick.

    Modern Batman movies too often overlook his trusty ward and partner, Robin.

    He looks good in pink.

    In "The Contaminated Cowl," the Mad Hatter uses radiation to turn Batman's mask a bright pink. West still rocks the look. Foiled again, Mad Hatter!

    He has the best villains.

    Speaking of the Mad Hatter, Adam West goes up against the greatest gallery of rogues. The Riddler is pitch perfect, the Penguin is not a freak, there are three amazing Catwomen.
    Think you know your Batman villains? Take our quiz!

    He has the best Batmobile.

    It does not look like a stealth bomber that got stepped on by Godzilla. It's a sleek and beautiful car. With ejector seats! It is also the fastest car in TV history. We measured.

    He has awesome gadgets.

    Speaking of which, his utility belt is actually filled with nifty utilities. Everything Bat-Thing a Batman could need. What other Batman can pull Bat-Sleep out of his Bat-belt?

    He has fun.

    The Adam West Batman does not growl when he speaks.

    He recorded a pop song in character.

    In the tune, West puts on the cowl to woo the titular Miranda. He works up the nerve to remove his mask, despite the constant interruptions of Robin. The Boy Wonder begs Batman to come fight a giant octopus and a villain named Mr. AC/DC — no relation to the hard rock act. It's a fun, weird ditty. Also, it's refreshing to hear Batman have a love life.

    He would rather sing with Superman than fight him.

    Batman and Superman are bros. Adam West's Batman would not try to snuff out Superman. He would shake his hand and probably realize that Superman is stronger. (Although, Batman did fight Green Hornet.) Pictured is Bob Holiday, who played Superman in the It's a Bird…It's a Plane…It's Superman in 1966.

    He is Adam West, and the other's are not.

    Batman is also Bruce Wayne, a suave playboy. Adam West oozes cool. He is a believable billionaire. We hope he really is a billionaire.

    Joan Kirby

    11 Jun 17 at 6:43 pm

  3. Nice memories

    The Batman movie was the first movie I ever saw so it will always hold a special place for me.
    May the bright knight live on in our memories!


    11 Jun 17 at 7:23 pm

  4. The Batman theme song was one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar. WHAT A GREAT SONG.
    We had a black and white TV back then so I went to my friends house down the block to watch the show in color. We were probably the typical 12 year olds that jumped up and yelled out BAM! and POW! during every fight.
    Adam West has been the voice of the mayor on Family Guy for years.
    So long to the best Batman.

    Joe Shlabotnik

    11 Jun 17 at 7:33 pm

  5. I was 7 when this debuted, and I was somewhat aware of the campiness, I think because my family members pointed it out. The 'walking up the side of a building' thing was obviously a camera turned sideways, even at my age at the time. Still loved the show. When this show came on it created a dilemma. I also loved Lost in Space. Both shows were on at 7:30 on Wednesdays (Batman's part 2 was the next night, but I wanted to watch both parts). Pre-VCRs, you had to choose. I switched to Batman, probably watching Lost In Space in summer reruns. By the 3rd and final year they were on different nights. Note to youngsters: network prime time years ago on ABC, CBS, and NBC was 7:30-11:00. At some point the FCC mandated the networks limit themselves to 3 hours of prime time, so 8:00-11:00 became the standard (Sundays are excepted, the networks can broadcast 4 hours beginning at 7:00). Can't remember the dumb reason for this.


    12 Jun 17 at 4:44 pm

  6. Last year my wife got for me for my birthday West's memoirs "back to the Batcave" for my birthday from his website. The extra nice part was that it was personally inscribed by the Bright Knight himself! I will always treasure it. (It is a very good book by the way.)


    17 Jun 17 at 6:35 am

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