Many of us know Adam West from the classic TV series, Batman, however his career began many years before that. His actual name was William West Anderson. He was born on September 19, 1928 in Walla Walla, Washington.
He started acting in films in the mid-1950s and also hosted a kids program in Hawaii called The Kini Popo Show with Peaches, the chimp. Early in his career, Adam West worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood; Jackie Gleason, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and even The Three Stooges in The Outlaws Is Coming. He also appeared in TV shows such as Maverick, The Detectives and Perry Mason. West also landed a role in the adventure, sci-fi movie, Robinson Crusoe on Mars.
Producer, Albert R. Broccoli wanted West to play 007 in his next James Bond film however West turned down the role stating that the character should remain British. In addition, television producer, William Dozier was looking for an actor to play Batman and caught Adam West as Captain Q in a television commercial for Nestle Quik. It was this commercial along with his comedic deadpan delivery that earned him the role of Batman. Dozier’s idea was to over do Batman to make it funny for adults and yet still appeal to younger audiences. ABC also tested Lyle Waggoner for the role however Adam West was chosen to play Batman.
The Batman TV series was an overnight success when it premiered on ABC on January 12, 1966 despite horrible reviews and poor scores with test audiences. A total of 120 episodes and a motion picture were filmed in color which was fairly new at that time. Unfortunately, ABC cancelled the show after 3 seasons. The show was very expensive to produce due to the elaborate sets, special effects and on location shoots.
Adam West went on to star in TV shows, various pilots and movies however he struggled getting parts because he was typecast after Batman. He also did personal appearances at comic book and toy shows where he would actually dress up as Batman. West also voiced Batman in the cartoon, The New Adventures of Batman and Superfriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show. He also reprised the role of Batman in Legends of the Superheroes, a comedy that also featured Burt Ward as Robin and Frank Gorshin as the Riddler.
In 1986, West starred in the TV sitcom, The Last Precinct produced by Stephen J. Cannell. The show was cancelled after only 8 episodes. He also starred in a pilot called Lookwell co-created by Conan O’Brien however it was never picked up. Through the years, West continued to land parts on TV shows, cartoons and another TV series called The Clinic which only lasted 5 episodes.
West also voiced characters in The Simpsons (starring as himself) in the episode, Mr. Plow and episodes of The Fairly OddParents. In the year 2000, he starred in Family Guy as Mayor Adam West.
In 2003, West starred in Return to the Batcave which reunited him with some of his cast members from the classic Batman TV Show. Burt Ward, Frank Gorshin, Julie Newmar and, Lee Meriwether co-starred in this made for TV biographical comedy.
For the 50th anniversary of the Classic Batman TV series, Warner Bros. announced an animated feature that would reunite Adam West with his co-stars Burt Ward and Julie Newmar. Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders was released in 2016 and was an awesome tribute to the TV show bringing together that campy humor for adults and fun for children.
On June 9, 2017, Adam West passed away at the age of 88 after a brief battle with Leukemia. He had already finished another animated feature, Batman vs. Two Face (voiced by William Shatner) which was released after West passed away.
Adam West will be missed by his adoring fans around the world. For those that were lucky to have met him, they can attest that he was a true gentleman and a really nice guy. Thank you for the great memories, Mr. West. You made this world a better place. You truly are the Bright Knight!