Adam West, TV′s ′Batman,′ dies age 88 | News | DW | 10.06.2017
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Adam West, TV's 'Batman,' dies age 88

The actor's no-nonsense portrayal of the masked superhero made him a pop culture icon. Though he initially felt limited by the role, in his later years he came to embrace it and the meaning it provided to so many fans.

Batman Schaupieler ADAM WEST mit Batmobil (Imago/ZUMA Press)

West's Batman jumped straight off the comic book pages onto the screen

West died of bone cancer on Friday night in Los Angeles, his family said on Saturday in a Facebook statement.

"It's with great sadness that we are sharing this news. Adam West passed away peacefully last night after a short but brave battle with leukemia," the statement said. "There are no words to describe how much we'll miss him."

The actor was most famous for the title role in American broadcaster ABC's "Batman" television series that debuted in 1966. The show - with its light, campy spin - was a hit. It lasted three seasons and forever immortalized West as the straight-faced, tights-wearing "Caped Crusader" who battled enemies against a background of colorful, comic-book "Pows!" and "Bangs!" It also led to a 1966 feature film spin-off.

Adam West als Batman mit Robin Burt Ward 1970 (Imago/ZUMA Press)

Batman was always accompanied by his sidekick Robin (played by Burt Ward)

After the show's cancelation in 1968, West struggled to find serious film work. Though he initially resented the type-casting that he felt resulted from the Batman role, he later came to embrace his iconic and uplifting role.

"I decided that since so many people love Batman, I might as well love it too. Why not? So I began to reengage myself with Batman. And I saw the comedy. I saw the love people had for it, and I just embraced it," West said in an interview with Variety magazine.

The one and only Batman

Adam West was the stage name of William West Anderson. Born in 1928 in Walla Walla, Washington, the actor kicked off his career in the 1950's with a string of TV roles in Western and cop series.

After the Batman series, he worked as an in-demand character and voice-over actor, including on the popular series "Family Guy" as the Mayor named Adam West.  

In 2012, West received a star on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.

For many fans around the world, West remained the truest version of Batman, especially as screen representations of the superhero took a darker turn beginning in the 1970's and 80's.

Leading figures in the film industry took to twitter to mourn the loss of West, including 20th Century Fox, which produced the 1966 spin-off film starring West.

The Robin to West's Batman, actor Burt Ward, said he was devastated by the death of his lifelong friend.

"In my eyes, there was only one real Batman that is and always will be Adam West. He was truly the Bright Knight," Ward added, using the superhero's nickname that West himself preferred, in contrast to the modern "Dark Knight" take on the superhero.

Mark Hamill, the original Luke Skywalker, tweeted his condolences online. Hamill voiced Batman's greatest enemy, the Joker, in Batman: The Animated Series and various animated movies and video games.

Kevin Conroy, the actor who gave Batman his inconic voice in animated features opposite Mark Hamill, also mourned "the Batman of [his] childhood."

As did Hollywood director Edgar Wright: 

And even fans too young to have seen West on their own televions screens expressed their gratitude for the memories the actor gave to their parents' generation.

West's family's statement thanked his fans for all their love and support over the years.

"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,” they said.

cb,dj(AP, dpa)

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