HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com/AP) — Adam West, whose straight-faced portrayal of Batman in a 1960s TV series lifted the tight-clad Caped Crusader into the national consciousness, has died at age 88, his family said Saturday on a verified Facebook page.
West died Friday night after “a short but brave battle with leukemia,” the family statement said.
West played the superhero straight for kids and funny for adults. He initially chaffed at being typecast after “Batman” went off the air after three seasons, but in later years he admitted he was pleased to have had a role in kicking off a big-budget film franchise by showing the character’s wide appeal.
“You get terribly typecast playing a character like that,” he told The Associated Press in a 2014 interview.
“But in the overall, I’m delighted because my character became iconic and has opened a lot of doors in other ways, too.” He returned to the role in an episode of the animated “The Simpsons.”
And more recently, he did the voice of nutty Mayor Adam West in the long-running “Family Guy” series.
In April 2012, West received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Flowers were being placed Saturday on the star at 6764 Hollywood Blvd., in front of the Guinness Museum of World Records.
“When I was a kid, Adam was my hero because of who he played,” Ralph Garman said at that 2012 ceremony. Garman, the entertainment reporter on KROQ-FM’s “Kevin and Bean” show, called West his hero.
“Adam’s Batman was everything to me. He taught me right from wrong, good versus evil and most significantly, the importance of driving a really cool car.”
Born William West Anderson in Walla Walla, Washington, he moved to Seattle at age 15 with his mother after his parents divorced. He graduated from Whitman College, a private liberal arts school, in Walla Walla.
After serving in the Army, he arrived in Hollywood in 1959 after landing a contract with Warner Bros. and made his feature film debut that year opposite Paul Newman in “The Young Philadelphians.”
But it was the campy, funny, quirky, odd “Batman” that made him a star.
West was remembered today by longtime friend and co-star, Burt Ward, who played sidekick Robin.
“I am devastated at the loss of one of my very dearest friends. Adam and I had a special friendship for more than 50 years. We shared some of the most fun times of our lives together, our families have deep love and respect for each other. This is a terribly unexpected loss of my lifelong friend, I will forever miss him.”
Ward added, “There are several fine actors who have portrayed Batman in films, in my eyes there was only one real Batman and that is and will always be Adam West. He was truly the Bright Knight.”
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West appeared on such television series as “Maverick” and “77 Sunset Strip” before getting his first regular series role on “The Detectives” in 1961. His other pre-“Batman” television credits include “Perry Mason,” “Bewitched,” “Gunsmoke” and “Petticoat Junction.” His recent live action credits include “30 Rock” and “George Lopez.”
West gained newfound fame in the last two decades as the voice of Mayor Adam West on FOX’s “Family Guy.”
He was married three times, and had six children. He had homes in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, but he and his wife, Marcelle, spent most of their time at their ranch near Sun Valley, Idaho.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)