Adam West: TV Batman actor dies at 88

Adam West, the US actor best known as the star of the 1960s hit TV series Batman, has died aged 88.

West died peacefully in Los Angeles after a “short but brave battle” with leukaemia, a family spokesperson said.

His tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Batman and the superhero’s alter ego Bruce Wayne won a cult following.

He later struggled to find big acting roles, but won a new generation of fans in more recent times after joining the cast of Family Guy.

First appearing in season two in 2002, he voiced Quahog’s eccentric Mayor Adam West, described by series creator Seth MacFarlane as an “alternate universe”, satirised version of the actor.

MacFarlane paid tribute to the star on Twitter, saying he had “lost a friend” and described West as “irreplaceable”.

Seth McFarlane tweet: Family Guy has lost its mayor and I have lost a friend.Image copyrightTWITTER

West’s family said in a statement: “Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero.”

The Batman TV series, with its onscreen fight-scene graphics of Wham! and Pow! became an unexpected hit. West and his co-star Burt Ward, who played Batman’s sidekick Robin, won widespread acclaim for their kitsch portrayal of the Dynamic Duo.

Catwoman mourns death of Batman

Actor Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman in the series, paid tribute to West on Saturday, saying he was was “bright, witty and fun to work with”.

“I will miss him in the physical world and savour him always in the world of imagination and creativity,” she said.

Actor Adam West attends the Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Press Room at New York Comic-Con on October 6, 2016Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAdam West remained closely associated with the Batman character throughout his career

In a 2010 interview with the website Slice of SciFi, West said the TV series had benefitted from very good writers.

“They saw the craziness, the comedy. You know, just as he’s about to put her in (jail), Batman says to Catwoman, ‘You give me curious stirrings in my utility belt.’ That’s funny stuff.”

When the series ended, West struggled to break free from the character, but over a long career appeared in nearly 50 films including Drop Dead Gorgeous, An American Vampire Story and Nevada Smith.

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Who has played Batman?

  • Adam West -TV series (1966-68); Batman: The Movie (1966)
  • Michael Keaton -Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992)
  • Val Kilmer -Batman Forever (1995)
  • George Clooney – Batman and Robin (1997)
  • Christian Bale – Batman Begins (2005); The Dark Knight (2008); The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • Ben Affleck – Batman v Superman (2016); Justice League (2017)
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Tributes to the actor poured in via social media following news of his death.

Actor Val Kilmer, who played Batman in a later movie, tweeted: “Ah dear Adam West. He was always so kind when we met. A real gent. Once when I was a kid we found ourselves in front the Batmobile. I got in.”

The author Neil Gaiman tweeted: “Rest in Peace Adam West. We met once in 1987 and I was too embarrassed and too foolishly ‘cool’ to tell you what you meant to my childhood.”

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill, who worked with West, described him was “a wonderful actor and so kind”.

He tweeted: “I’m so lucky to have worked w/ him & tell him how much he meant to me & millions of fans.”

Before embarking on an acting career, West was drafted into the US Army and was an announcer for the Armed Forces Network.

The US defence department tweeted a picture of West in his uniform with the message: “He was our hero long before the cape.”

Tweet from US defence departmentImage copyrightTWITTER

West was born in 1928 in Walla Walla, Washington state, and began his acting career in Hawaii in the 1950s.

He is survived by his wife, Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

 

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