LOS ANGELES—Actor Adam West, known for his starring role in the 1960s ABC television series “Batman,” died on Friday, June 9, in Los Angeles, following a short battle with leukemia. He was 88.
“It’s with great sadness that we are sharing this news…Adam West passed away peacefully last night after a short but brave battle with leukemia,” West’s family said in a statement on Facebook. “He was a beloved father, husband, grandfather, and great-grandfather. There are no words to describe how much we’ll miss him. We know you’ll miss him too and we want you to know how much your love and support meant to him throughout the years. Hug your loved ones today.”
West was born on September 19, 1928 and raised on a farm near Walla Walla, Washington. He moved to Seattle at the age of 15 and was drafted into the United States Army after his years at Whitman College. Upon discharge, he moved to Hawaii to pursue his acting career. He appeared in the children’s show “El Kini Popo Show,” which featured a chimp. After moving to Hollywood in 1959, West landed guest roles in several Western television series, such as “Lawman” and “Sugarfoot.”
He caught the attention of producer William Dozier after appearing in a Nestle Quik chocolate powder commercial as a James Bond-like character called Captain Q. Dozier cast West as the billionaire Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego, Batman, based on the DC comic book character created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, alongside Burt Ward as Batman’s sidekick, Robin. The campy, tongue-in-cheek-style show ran from January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968 and was broadcast twice weekly for the first two seasons. West also starred in the film adaptation of “Batman” in 1966.
“I am devastated at the loss of one my very dearest friends,” Ward said in a statement to Variety. “Adam and I had a special friendship for more than 50 years. We shared some of the most fun times of our lives together. Our families have deep love and respect for each other. This is a terribly unexpected loss of my lifelong friend. I will forever miss him.”
Following his years as Batman, West faced challenges finding other acting roles, due to being typecast. His first role after “Batman” was in the 1969 film “The Girl Who Knew Too Much,” as the nightclub owner Johnny Cain. He went on to appear in “The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker” (1971), “Nevada Smith” (1975), “The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood” (1980), and “Young Lady Chatterly II” (1985). He made guest appearances in shows including “Fantasy Island,” “Zorro,” and “The King of Queens.”
West reprised the role of Batman several times, in animated series such as “The New Adventures of Batman” (1977), “The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour” (1977-1978), and “Legends of the Superheroes” (1979). He took on the role of Mayor Trent in the WB series “Batman” and completed voice-over work for other animated series such as “The Simpsons,” “Futurama,” and “Johnny Brave.” From 2000, he appeared regularly as Mayor Adam West on “Family Guy,” the animated series created by Seth MacFarlane.
West is survived by his wife, Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Written By Joanne Yi