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Adam West, who is remembered as the Caped Crusader on ABC 1966-68 camp classic “Batman,” died Friday night in Los Angeles after losing his battle with leukemia. He was 88.
Born William West Anderson on Sept. 19, 1928 in Walla Walla, Washington, West got his start on camera as the sidekick on a children’s show in Hawaii called “El Kini Popo Show” in the 1950s. He moved to Hollywood in 1959 with his wife and then two children, where he took the stage name Adam West, and began making guest appearances on television on series like “The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse,” “Sugarfoot,” “Colt 45,” “Lawman,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “Maverick,” “Perry Mason” and “Petticoat Junction.”
West’s first regularly scheduled series role was on the final season of ABC crime drama “The Detectives” in the 1961-62 TV season, four years before “Batman” exploded on the scene on ABC on Jan. 12, 1966 with two weekly half-hour telecasts that immediately held two spots in the Top 10. When the novelty wore off and ratings diminished, ABC canceled “Batman” in the spring of 1968. A last minute effort by NBC for a fourth season was too little too late after the sets were already torn down.
Typecast for the remainder of his career, West returned to making guest appearances on series like “Alias Smith and Jones,” “Emergecy!” and “Alice.” In 1977, he went back to his “Batman” roots as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman in animated “The New Adventures of Batman” in 1977 and “SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show” in 1984. His third regularly scheduled series role was in short-lived one-hour NBC comedy “The Last Precinct” in 1986. And he was a recurring voice on Fox’s animated “Family Guy” as Mayor Adam West for the course of the animated sitcom’s run.
West wrote two books, one, titled “Back to the Batcave” and published in the mid-1990s, in which he said that he was “angry and disappointed” not to have been offered the chance to reprise the role in the Tim Burton movies. And he made recent guest appearances on CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and this season on NBC sitcom “Powerless.”
West is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.