By Matt Schudel
Adam West, the actor who portrayed the superhero Batman on television in the 1960s, and who seemed trapped in the character’s cape and tights for the rest of his career, died June 9 in Los Angeles. He was 88.
The cause was leukemia, his family said in a statement.
Other actors, including Michael Keaton and Oscar winner Christian Bale, have taken on the role of the Caped Crusader, but no one was as closely identified with the character as Mr. West.
His dozens of other film and television roles, from westerns to police dramas, seemed to be forgotten, as popular culture remembered him for a single role on a half-hour adventure comedy that lasted just three seasons, from 1966 to 1968.
There was always something a little goofy about the show itself, with its masked heroes, Batman and Robin, its staged fistfights, accompanied by comic-book illustrations saying “Pow!” and “Zowie!” — and about Mr. West’s portrayal of its eponymous hero.
For the next 50 years, Mr. West appeared as Batman or as himself in countless TV shows, including “The Simpsons” and “The Big Bang Theory,” as nostalgia merged into a retro-nerd-hipster sort of cool.
To the Batcave! With my 3yo grandson 💙 pic.twitter.com/vyhlUYNAyF
— Adam West (@therealadamwest) April 18, 2017
“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,” Mr. West said.
Keeping his tongue firmly planted in cheek, Mr. West voiced a corrupt mayor in the animated series “Family Guy” — a mayor named Adam West.