Adam West has passed away. He was 88 and leaves behind a wife, six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He came up on the losing end of a brief battle with leukemia, and reportedly died peacefully surrounded by his family.
You might know him as Batman [I previously wrote about the history and importance of his Batman show].
If you’re a little younger you might only know him as the mayor on Family Guy or perhaps for his various Simpsons cameos.
And if you’re a real comdy nerd you’ll remember him from Zombie Nightmare, an especially cheesy 80s movie which proved to be perfect fodder for one of Mystery Science Theater 3000′s better episodes.
It’s sad that he’s gone, and I have no profound insight to share other than to say that now is the perfect time to track down the documentary Starring Adam West, which chronicles his career and illustrates just how challenging his post-Batman life was (not just on him but his family as well) and just how much he needed the lifeline Seth MacFarlane threw his way in casting him on Family Guy. West always seemed lovably affable, and the same is true in Starring Adam West except it offers you a glimpse at the years of struggle behind the smile and self-deprecating jokes and how well-earned his relatively recent career renaissance was.
West is certainly not the first actor to play Batman to die. That distinction falls to Robert Lowerey, who played the caped crusader in the 1949 serial Batman and Robin and died in 1971. However, West is the first to have attained such breakthrough success with the role, and the sadness at his loss is a testament to how many lives he touched, be it through Batman, Family Guy, his various convention appearances or any number of other ways his colorful career and life impacted the world.