I doubt many people my age will know who Adam West is, but he is possibly the best Batman that has ever lived.
Adam West was the Batman for the hammy but earnest live-action Batman TV show from the 60s.
Each episode was primed with colorful and strange characters, adrenaline-charged fight scenes, and impossibly creative traps. I loved all of the villains, the goofy police officers, the silly catchphrases, Robin’s random declarations like “Holy Basket-Eating Clowns, Batman!” and, most of all, those damn cliff-hangers.
The show was campy, silly, and downright ridiculous.
I, however, had no idea and took it completely at face value.
I would marathon the crap out of this show, wearing out the many VHS tapes we had, always wanting more.
My mom was lucky enough to meet the real Adam West at a con many years ago when I was still a little girl. From what she tells me he was exactly what you’d expect: a kind man who was grateful for his lot in life, in spite of the fact that the show made it difficult for him to find work afterwards.
They discussed me at length and, eventually, he asked if she had a picture of me. He then autographed the picture for free and then told my mom to give it to me the next time she saw me.
When she came home with that picture, I was over the moon.
You don’t understand.
Batman signed a picture of me.
And this was long before the age of Twitter, or Facebook, or Amazon. I couldn’t just buy an autographed photo online. What I was holding in my hand was a treasure. A freaking golden ticket to the proverbial chocolate factory of fandom.
Luckily, in spite of him having little luck finding a job as a live-action actor, he lended his voice to many a animated character and was prevalent in many cartoons I watched as a child. He played Catman in The Fairly Odd Parents, a Kim Possible villain, Mayor Grange in The Batman animated series–he did so many voice-overs I can’t even list all of them here.
I always experienced a sudden rush of excitement whenever I heard his voice. “It’s Adam West!” I’d scream every time without fail. Especially when he made a guest appearance in Batman shows. It was like he was giving his blessing to the newest version of the character, and reminding everyone of it’s humble but wholesome roots.
I consider Adam West to be the grandfather of Batman. His Batman might not have been the “coolest” incarnation of The Dark Knight, but he still remains my favorite. So much of West’s warmth and humor went into the role and I can’t help but admire him. Who else could say those lines with a straight face?
News of his death hit me hard. It feels like a real talent has passed from the world. Not just a real talent, a kind soul.
I’ll never forget you, Adam West.
I never got a chance to meet you, but you will always hold a place in my Bat-heart.