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Adam West
Adam West 1961.JPG
West in a publicity photo for The Detectives (1961)
Born
William West Anderson

(1928-09-19)September 19, 1928
Died June 9, 2017(2017-06-09) (aged 88)
Alma mater Whitman College
Occupation Actor
Years active 1954–2017
Known for
  • Bruce Wayne/Batman
  • Mayor Adam West
  • Colonel Dan McReady
  • Catman
Television
  • Batman
  • Family Guy
  • The Simpsons
  • The Fairly OddParents
Spouse(s)
  • Billie Lou Yeager
    (m. 1950; div. 1956)
  • Nga Frisbie Dawson
    (m. 1957; div. 1962)
  • Marcelle Tagand Lear (m. 1970)
Children 4

William West Anderson (September 19, 1928 – June 9, 2017), known professionally as Adam West, was an American actor, known primarily for his role as Batman in the 1960s ABC series of the same name and its 1966 theatrical feature film.

West began acting in films in the 1950s. He played opposite Chuck Connors in Geronimo (1962) and The Three Stooges in The Outlaws Is Coming (1965).

He also appeared in the science fiction film Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) and performed voice work on The Fairly Odd Parents (2003–2008), The Simpsons (1992, 2002), and Family Guy (2000–2019), playing fictional versions of himself in all three.

Late in his career, West starred in two direct-to-video animated Batman films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, and Batman vs. Two-Face.

He appeared in many theatrical films, various television shows and did voice overs during his long career.

Early life

Barbara Stanwyck Adam West Big Valley 1968
Barbara Stanwyck Adam West - Big Valley 1968

Adam West was born in Walla Walla, Washington. His father, Otto Anderson (1903–1984) was a farmer; and his mother, Audrey Volenne (née Speer; 1906–1969) was an opera singer and concert pianist who left her Hollywood dreams to care for her family. He moved to Seattle with his mother when he was 15, following his parents' divorce.

West attended Walla Walla High School during his freshman and sophomore years, and later enrolled in Lakeside School in Seattle.

He attended Whitman College but studied at University of Puget Sound during the fall semester of 1949. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in literature and a minor in psychology from Whitman College in Walla Walla. He also participated on the speech and debate team.

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 a career in television.

Career

Adam West Anita Sands Robert Taylors Detectives 1961
West with Anita Sands - The Detectives 1961

While in Hawaii, West was picked for a role as the sidekick on a local TV program, The Kini Popo Show, which also featured a chimp named Peaches. West later took over as host of the show. In 1959, West moved with his wife and two children to Hollywood, where he took the stage name Adam West.

He appeared in the film The Young Philadelphians which starred Paul Newman. He had guest-star roles in a number of television Westerns. On three Warner Bros. westerns which aired on ABCSugarfoot, Colt .45, and Lawman—West played the role of Doc Holliday, the frontier dentist and gunfighter.

He made a brief appearance in the 1963 film Soldier in the Rain starring Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen, and starred as Major Dan McCready, the 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.

Batman

Adam West Batman 1966
Adam West Batman 1966

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.

Also in character, West appeared in a public service announcement in which he encouraged schoolchildren to heed then-President Lyndon B. Johnson's call for them to buy U.S. savings stamps, a children's version of U.S. savings bonds, to support the Vietnam War.

After his high-profile role, West, along with Burt Ward and Yvonne Craig who played his crime-fighting sidekicks Robin and Batgirl were typecast. For a time, West made a living from personal appearances as Batman.

Adam West Yvonne Craig Batman Batgirl 1967
Adam West Yvonne Craig - Batman and Batgirl 1967

West often 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, and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians.

In 1979, West once again donned the Batsuit for the live-action TV special Legends of the Superheroes. In 1985, DC Comics named West as one of the honorees in the company's 50th-anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great for his work on the Batman series.

West never appeared in any of the theatrically released post-1960s Batman franchise motion pictures.

Batman and Robin 1966
Batman and Robin 1966

West later had a recurring role as the voice of Mayor Grange in the WB animated series The Batman.

The actor vocally reprised his role as Batman for the CGI-animated short film Batman: New Times, he co-starred with Mark Hamill, who vocally portrayed The Joker. West also voiced Thomas Wayne in an episode of the cartoon series Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

In 2003, West and Burt Ward starred in the television movie Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, alongside Frank Gorshin, Julie Newmar, and Lee Meriwether. In November 2014, West voiced himself, and the 1960s version of Batman, in the video game Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.

Personal life

Robin and Batman
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin

West was married three times. His first marriage was to his college girlfriend Billie Lou Yeager in 1950. In 1957 he married Ngatokorua Frisbie Dawson, they had two children before their divorce in 1962. West then married Marcelle Tagand Lear in November 1970. They had two children and remained together for more than 46 years, until Adam's death.

West said that he played Batman for laughs, but in order to do that, one had to never think it was funny. You just had to pull on that cowl and believe that no one would recognize you. Also during the Batman series, he became close friends with crossover co-star Van Williams, who played The Green Hornet. The two of them were also neighbors for a while and spent much time together outdoors, including fishing and hunting.

In 2010, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to him. West then received the 2,468th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 5, 2012. His star is located at 6764 Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Guinness Museum in Hollywood, California.

Walla Walla, Washington, Adam West's hometown, officially celebrates its annual "Adam West Day" on September 19, with the first one celebrated in 2017.

Death

Adam West Batman 1965
Adam West, Batman 1965

West died in Los Angeles, California, on June 9, 2017, following a brief battle with leukemia. After his death, West's former Batman co-star and longtime friend, Burt Ward, released a statement;

"This is a terribly unexpected loss of my lifelong friend, I will forever miss him. There are several fine actors who have portrayed Batman in films. In my eyes, there was only one real Batman that is and always will be Adam West. He was truly the Bright Knight."

On June 15, 2017, Los Angeles projected the Bat-Signal on City Hall as a tribute to West, and Walla Walla shone the bat-signal on the Whitman Tower.

West's last public appearances were from March to April 2017 at the SouthCoast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza in Hanover, Massachusetts, where he was the guest of honor, Fan Expo Dallas, and the second annual Silicon Valley Comic Con.

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