R.I.P. Adam West

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.


  1. A good thing that they did The caped Crusader last year, allowing him a last hurray. It is kind of sad that he ended up stuck with the Batman role, since he was a really good actor. It is even more sad how many people laughed at him because of that. I for my part had always a lot of respect for him. Enough that I bother to honour him now, even though I usually ignore celebrity deaths. It always feels weird to be sad about someone if you don’t know him personally.

      1. Really? I usually don’t really care for the Direct to video stuff, but Caped Crusaders was such a nice homage and so much fun.

  2. I have to admit I was one of the people who laughed at him when I was younger, but I’ve grown to appreciate a lot of people now that I’m older, and he was one of them. When his career picked up again, I realized he does have wonderful comedic timing, and some actual acting skills.

    1. I encountered the Adam West show roughly around the same time that I encountered The Animated Series and Tim Burton movies. So, I never quite knew what to make of the West stuff. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I just knew it was so profoundly different from the modern-Batman I was enjoying. It’s only coming back to it that I’ve enjoyed it a little more, but for me Adam West was that impossibly funny guy with fantastic timing and line readings on Family Guy and (occasionally) The Simpsons.

  3. Will miss Adam West. While nobody took his version of batman seriously it will always stay in peoples mind for its camp comedy family fun. Young kids today still love it and the show wasn’t ashamed to have Robin as a likeable regular character (take that Christopher Nolan, Zack Schneider and Tim Burton but less so Schumacher). I recently watched the cartoon movie featuring his voice again and did really enjoy it. As did I enjoy the semi documentary Return to the Batcave. I also recommend the recent Netflix documentary I am Adam West which reminds me how much opportunity he lost because of a memorable role as Batman. He was tipped to be James Bond and was around while Connery, Eastwood and McQueen were rising stars but Batman was to be the kiss of death. But less is known about his charity work and frequent appearances as Batman for fans. Sending up himself as Mayor West in Family Guy could not be done by anyone else. I will always wander how much of star he could have been had he not done Batman.

    1. He was one of the early victims of superhero movie/TV typecasting, but he came out of it beautifully (albeit after a long fallow period) and was at least freed up to play to his comic sensibilities. Still, when modern actors like Christian Bale and Ben Affleck manage to juggle prestige dramas and fun action movies with their superhero lives it probably inspired the stray, “Why couldn’t that have been me?” thought in West’s head. Maye it could have been given his talents, but he did alright by himself, had a big family, did charity work (as you mentioned) and went out making us all laugh.

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