A sad day for comic book fans. Adam West, 60s icon and our original Batman, succumbed to Leukemia on June 9th and I found out on Twitter late Saturday, June 10th. Batman has always been a part of my life. I would occasionally see reruns on television as a kid, thinking it was a straight up action show, unaware of the camp factor. Then it came back into my life when in 2002 TV Land added it to its schedule by airing a “Batmanathon” hosted by Adam West himself. Last year, I was able to buy all three seasons – digitally remastered – on DVD.
Batman was not Batman without Adam West. The man knew how to deliver campy lines with a straight face, but not take the role too seriously. Can you imagine any one else in that role doing the same thing? I can’t. Maybe it helped that he had that distinctive voice which helped him land voice over roles in his later years. Just yesterday, I watched “Beware the Gray Ghost”, an episode of Batman: The Animated Series in which West lent his voice to the character of Simon Trent, a washed up actor who portrayed a childhood hero of Bruce Wayne’s, The Gray Ghost, and helps Batman catch a serial bomber. It’s one of the most touching episodes of the series as it shows Batman helping a down on his luck actor come to the realization that his role as the Gray Ghost wasn’t a waste but an inspiration to others. It was also art imitating life as for years West found it hard to find roles due to being typecast as Batman. But those that grew up watching Batman in the 1960s never forgot the Batmania that swept the country and turned Adam West and Burt Ward into superstars. Despite disappointment from some die-hard fans than the series betrayed the comic’s more serious roots, some (myself included) are finding the series to be a breath of fresh air in an age of a dire, gloomy Dark Knights. You can keep your Keatons, your Bales, your Kilmers and your Afflecks, Adam West … is … Batman and I’m sad that I never got to meet him. But he will live on in the roles he played on television and on Thursday, June 15th, the Mayor of Los Angeles will light a Bat-Signal in honor of West.
In the meantime, let’s list some of the most memorable (and hilarious) quotes uttered by the Caped Crusader:
“I’ll stand at the bar. I shouldn’t wish to attract attention.” – Hi Diddle Riddle
“What a terrible way to go-go.” – Smack in the Middle
“If you can’t trust Santa, then who can you trust?” – I’m not sure which episode this one comes from but it was one of the famous “window cameos”.
“I’d like to think that it’s because our hearts are pure.” – Or this one but it’s more than likely a Catwoman (Julie Newmar) episode.
“Boys and girls, go back to your studies. Believe me, nothing in life is free!” – The Joker Goes to School
“Bartender, a bit of advice. Always inspect a jukebox carefully. These machines can be deadly.” – He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul
“Another trap! And I intend to walk right into it.” – The Bookworm Turns
“Batman to Gotham City police, Batman to Gotham City police! Red alert, red alert! We are trapped inside a cookbook at 5th & Cedar!” – While Gotham City Burns
“It fits like my glove!” – Death in Slow Motion
“You owe your life to dental hygiene.” – The Riddler’s False Notion
“Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!” – Batman the Movie
“Man cannot live by crime-fighting alone.” – Batman’s Waterloo
Goodnight and Godbless Mr. West. We will never forget you.