Army Veteran Adam West, Batman Of The 1960s, Dies At 88

news
Adam West as Batman

Adam West, who donned a cape, cowl and tights to became an overnight sensation in 1966 as the star of the campy “Batman” TV series, has died, his family said. He was 88.


West, who later lamented being typecast as the Caped Crusader but eventually embraced having been part of American pop culture, died Friday in Los Angeles. He had leukemia, according to multiple reports.

A former Warner Bros. contract player West was appearing in TV commercials in the mid-1960s to help pay the rent. But several commercials he did for Nestle’s Quik chocolate powder — parodies of the popular James Bond movies in which West played a dry-witted character called Captain Q — had an unexpected outcome.

They caught the attention of 20th Century Fox TV producer William Dozier, who was looking for someone to star as Gotham City millionaire Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter-ego, Batman, in a farcical new series for ABC.

Based on the DC Comics character created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger in 1939, “Batman” debuted in January 1966 as a twice-weekly half-hour program.

West knew that his life would never be the same the night the heavily promoted first episode aired.

“I stopped at the market on the way home,” he told Esquire magazine in 2004. “I thought, ‘Tonight, I just want to be alone. I’ll stop, get a steak and a six pack, whatever, then go home and watch the debut of the show.’

“As I walked through the checkout line, I heard people saying, ‘C’mon, c’mon, hurry up. “Batman” is coming on!’ And I said to myself, ‘Goodbye, anonymity.’ ”

With West as the strait-laced crime fighter who spoke with what has been described as ironic earnestness and Burt Ward as his youthfully exuberant sidekick, Robin, “Batman” was a pop culture phenomenon in a decade that was full of them.

“This whole thing is an insane, mad fantasy world,” West said of the show in a Chicago Daily News interview shortly before its debut. “And my goal is to become American’s biggest put-on.”

It was high camp indeed, with fight scenes punctuated by comic book-style “POW!” “BOP!” and “WHAP!” exclamations flashing on the screen and an collection of guest-star villains that included Frank Gorshin as the Riddler, Burgess Meredith as the Penguin, Cesar Romero as the Joker and Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt as Catwoman.

In June 1966, The Los Angeles Times reported that “Batman” had been a “life-transforming” success for West: Fan mail was arriving “by the wagonsful” — as were requests for personal appearances and even locks of his hair.

“I love doing the show, and frankly it’s given me more identification than any three movies could have,” West said. “What I’ve got to feel is that if I can make a success of this characterization, I can make a success of other characterizations.”

The “Batman” series spawned a 1966 movie version and a variety of merchandise, including lunchboxes, dolls and toy Batmobiles.

Both nights of the twice-weekly “Batman” were rated in the top-10 list of shows for the 1965-66 season. But as with any fad, the show’s popularity eventually began to fade.

By the fall of 1967, the series was cut back to once a week, and it was canceled in March 1968.

Before his overnight stardom as Batman, West had made guest appearances on TV series such as “Cheyenne,” “Maverick” and “77 Sunset Strip” and had been a regular for a season on Robert Taylor’s series “The Detectives.”

He also had roles in movies such as “Tammy and the Doctor” (1963), “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” (1964) and “The Outlaws Is Coming!” (1965, opposite the Three Stooges).

But after “Batman” ended, West told Scripps Howard News Service in 2001, “It was a bleak time in my career because of typecasting in ‘Batman.’ I couldn’t get away from it.”

West went on to do guest shots on “Fantasy Island” and “Laverne & Shirley” and other TV shows. He also appeared in movies such as “The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker” (1971), “Hooper” (1978) and “The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood” (1980).

In 1986, he starred as the police captain in the 1986 NBC sitcom “The Last Precinct,” but the series was quickly canceled. He also voiced a few TV cartoon versions of “Batman” over the years and more recently provided the voice for Mayor Adam West in the animated comedy TV series “Family Guy.”

In time, West came to appreciate having played Batman.

“The reaction has been so positive and good for me that I love it now,” he told The Times in 2009. “How could I not? I would hate to be a bitter, aging actor. I’ve been so fortunate to have this opportunity to bring Batman alive on the screen.”

As for the newer, darker depictions of Gotham City on the big screen, West said they “are grim, Gothic, full of explosions, mayhem. It’s the way of things, I suppose; the whole world seems darker.”

But, he said, “I look at (it) this way: They’ve got ‘The Dark Knight,’ and I was the bright knight. Or maybe I was even … the neon knight.”

Born William West Anderson on Sept. 19, 1928, in Seattle, West grew up on a farm outside Walla Walla, Wash., before his parents divorced and he moved to Seattle to live with his mother and her new husband.

He majored in English literature at Whitman College in Walla Walla. He later did postgraduate work in communications at Stanford University but dropped out after six weeks to take a job at a Sacramento radio station.

West, who was drafted into the Army in the early 1950s, was hosting a local daily variety show in Hawaii with a chimpanzee named Peaches and acting in community theater when a Hollywood agent saw him playing the lead in a production of “Picnic.” In 1959, West became a contract player at Warner Bros.

The Space Force has a name tape now

popular

The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.

In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.

Read More

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the U.S. drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.

With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.

Read More

The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.

Read More

Two immigrants, a pastor and an Army sergeant have been convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud as part of an illegal immigration scheme, according to federal prosecutors.

Rajesh Ramcharan, 45; Diann Ramcharan, 37; Sgt. Galima Murry, 31; and the Rev. Ken Harvell, 60, were found guilty Thursday after a nine-day jury trial, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office in Colorado.

The conspiracy involved obtaining immigration benefits for Rajesh Ramcharan, Diann Ramcharan, and one of their minor children, the release said. A married couple in 2007 came to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago on visitor visas. They overstayed the visas and settled in Colorado.

Read More

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Saturday it was sending to Ukraine the black boxes from a Ukrainian passenger plane that the Iranian military shot down this month, an accident that sparked unrest at home and added to pressure on Tehran from abroad.

Iran's Tasnim news agency also reported the authorities were prepared for experts from France, Canada and the United States to examine information from the data and voice recorders of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that came down on Jan. 8.

The plane disaster, in which all 176 aboard were killed, has added to international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long running row with the United States over its nuclear program that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.

Read More