Actor Adam West, whose portrayal in the 1960s of a lighter-version of Batman, a caped-crusader in tights, campy in the right ways with its “Wham” and “Pow” illustrations that popped into fight scenes, died on Saturday. He was 88.
Family members said West died of Leukemia. “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,” West’s family said in a statement.
West’s depiction of Batman was iconic. It brought him to the top of pop culture in the 1960s, but it would also hold his acting career back for decades. He was born William West Anderson in Walla Wall, Washington, where he graduated from a small liberal arts school. After serving in the Army, West moved to Hollywood. There he appeared in TV shows like the popular western Bonanza. But it was his role as a James Bond-esque figure in a Nestle Quik commercial that brought him to the attention Batman’s producer.
West was asked to do the show, which he viewed as “one of absurdity and tongue in cheek to the point that I found it irresistible,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “You can’t play Batman in a serious, square-jawed, straight-ahead way without giving the audience the sense that there’s something behind that mask waiting to get out, that he’s a little crazed, he’s strange.”