American icon, actor Adam West (born William West Anderson), best known for his portrayal of the title role in the 1960s ABC series Batman and its theatrical feature film, has passed away at the age of 88 after a short battle with leukemia. His acting career began in films in 1959. He played opposite Chuck Connors in Geronimo (1962) and The Three Stooges in The Outlaws Is Coming (1965). He has also appeared in the science-fiction film Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964), opposite Paul Mantee. He has done voice work on The Fairly OddParents, The Simpsons and Family Guy (he voiced fictional versions of himself in all of those animated series) and also Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.
Born in Walla Wala, Washington he is of Swedish descent from his father, and English, with small amounts of Welsh, German, Irish, and remote Scottish from his mother. At age 15 he moved to Seattle when he was 15 with his mother following his parents’ divorce. Drafted into the United States Army, he served as an announcer on American Forces Network television. After his discharge, he worked as a milkman before moving to Hawaii to pursue television. in Hawaii, West was picked for a role as the sidekick on a children’s show called El Kini Popo Show, which featured a chimp. West later took over as star of the show. n 1959, West moved with his wife and two children to Hollywood, where he took the stage name Adam West. In his autobiography Back to the Batcave, he explains he chose ‘Adam’ simply because he liked the way it looked and sounded with ‘West’, his middle name. His close friends and family still call him “Bill”.
He appeared in the film The Young Philadelphians including Paul Newman, and guest-starred in a number of television Westerns. On three Warner Bros. Westerns aired on ABC, Sugarfoot, Colt .45, and Lawman, West played the role of Doc Holliday, the frontier dentist and gunfighter. He portrayed Wild Bill Hickok in the episode “Westbound Stage” of the 1960 NBC Western series Overland Trail, with William Bendix and Doug McClure. He guest-starred on Edmond O’Brien’s syndicated crime drama Johnny Midnight, and soon snagged a supporting role as police sergeant Steve Nelson in the crime drama, The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor. He made a few guest appearances on Perry Mason in the early 1960s and appeared once on Walter Brennan’s sitcom, The Real McCoys. He starred as Major Dan McCready, the ill-fated mission commander of ‘Mars Gravity Probe 1’ in the 1964 film Robinson Crusoe on Mars. In 1965, he was cast in the comedy Western The Outlaws Is Coming, the last feature film starring The Three Stooges.
Producer William Dozier cast West as Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, Batman, in the television series Batman, in part after seeing West perform as the James Bond-like spy Captain Q in a Nestlé Quik commercial. The popular campy show ran on ABC from 1966 to 1968; a feature-length film version directed by Leslie H. Martinson was released in 1966. In 1970, West was offered the role of James Bond by Cubby Broccoli for the film Diamonds Are Forever. West did not accept, later stating in his autobiography that he believed the role should always be played by a British actor. West’s first post-Caped Crusader role was in the film The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1969). For a time, West made a living doing personal appearances as Batman. He acted in several movies in the 70s and reprised his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne, first in the short-lived animated series, The New Adventures of Batman, and in other shows such as The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour, Tarzan and the Super 7, Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show, and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (succeeding Olan Soule in the role).
In 1979, West once again donned the Batsuit for the live-action TV special Legends of the Superheroes. He would appear as himself in several comedy and other tv shows. West received the 2,468th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 5, 2012. In February 2016, West guest-starred as himself on the 200th episode of The Big Bang Theory. Since 2000, West has made regular appearances on the animated series Family Guy, on which he plays Mayor Adam West, the lunatic mayor of Quahog, Rhode Island, his role giving him a new wave of popularity since Batman. He married his wife Marcelle in 1970; they met when she was the wife of the Lear Jet founder and they posed for a publicity photo at Santa Monica Airport, with him in his Batman costume. (They each had two children from their previous marriages, then added a couple of their own.