Sunday, June 11, 2017


From the L.A. Times:

Adam West, who donned a cape, cowl and tights to became an overnight sensation in 1966 as the star of the campy “Batman” TV series, has died, according to a family statement. He was 88.

West, who later lamented being typecast as the iconic Caped Crusader but eventually embraced having been part of American pop culture, died Friday in Los Angeles after a short battle with leukemia, according to multiple reports.

A former Warner Bros. contract player, West was appearing in TV commercials in the mid-1960s to help pay the rent. But several commercials he did for Nestle’s Quik chocolate powder — parodies of the popular James Bond movies in which West played a dry-witted character called Captain Q — had an unexpected outcome.

They caught the attention of 20th Century Fox TV producer William Dozier, who was looking for someone to star as Gotham City millionaire Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter-ego, Batman, in a farcical new series for ABC.

Based on the DC character created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger in 1939, “Batman” debuted in January 1966 as a twice-weekly half-hour program — 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, with the Wednesday episode ending on a cliffhanger.

West knew his life would never be the same the night the heavily promoted first episode aired.

(By Dennis McLellan)

In 1966, the explosions of pop art, psychedelia, and the counter-culture combined to create the perfect environment in which to showcase the televersion of Batman.  In fact, all of those factors could be summed up with this cover photo of the Caped Crusader:

The craze for "Bam! Pow! Zap!" didn't last long - the show ran for three seasons, at least one more than it should have.  And with that last season, the budget was so cut back, the sets were just drapes and toy mice.  (Okay, that was the Nora Clavicle episode, probably the series' lowest point?)

And when it was over, Adam West found that his career suffered from the typecasting.  Yet he never stopped working; he just never hit those heights again.

And as always happens with such pop culture sensations, there came a period in which the general public ridiculed what they once loved, maybe even embarrassed by having loved it.  It took a few decades, but the nostalgia factor as usual kicked in and what once was loved and then derided became loved again.   Adam West did a lot of voice-over work in cartoons, high in demand because those deep-toned pipes never failed him even as he got older.  And there were plenty of TV shows in which he fit in nicely despite - or even perhaps because of - his association with the cowl and cape, like 'Murder, She Wrote'.

And he was even more in demand for just being himself, and this is not just because of all those daytime talk shows looking to cash in on that nostalgia factor with theme episodes revolving old loved shows.  Adam West is already in the Television Crossover Hall of Fame but for his vocal work in the Tooniverse as himself.  Originally that was for three appearances:
  • 'The Simpsons'
  • 'Johnny Bravo'
  • 'Family Guy' which might be responsible for the renaissance of interest in Adam West.  In the Tooniverse, Mr. West was the mayor of Quahog, Rhode Island.  (I wonder how his death will be addressed and if a replacement celebrity mayor will be elected.)
But since then his appearances in other TV animated series have expanded his domination over the Tooniverse:
  • 'The Fairly Oddparents'
  • 'The Critic'
  • 'Futurama'
Besides being set in the Tooniverse, this episode of 'Futurama' takes place in the 31st Century, so no clue if it could happen in Toobworld itself.  I don't plan on sticking around to find out.

But he really expanded on the legend that is Adam West in Toobworld with the following shows:

The Good Life 
- John Hurts His Leg or Tales from the Crip (1994) 

Since Mr. West is only listed as "Adam West - Voice", then he was probably on speaker-phone, in much the same way William Shatner was in the first episode of 'The Larry Sanders Show'.

Space Ghost Coast to Coast
- Batmantis (1994)
Moltar has been kidnapped by Your Mother and holds him ransom for Space Ghost's power bands. Space Ghost and Zorak (in his alter-ego form of Batmantis) try to rescue him. However, it's revealed to be just a dream.

It could be that Mr. West's appearance in this episode was just a dream as well.

Hope & Gloria 
- Who's Poppa? (1995)

Julie Newmar also appeared as herself in this episode.  Since a majority of the action took place backstage at the Dennis Dupree afternoon talk show, it's likely Mr. West and Ms. Newmar were there in connection to their roles on that iconic 60s super-hero show based on the "real-life" adventures of the actual Batman.  (Ms. Newmar portrayed Selina Kyle, the true and first Catwoman.

Weird Science 
- Strangers in Paradise (1996) 
Chett wishes to be trapped on a desert island and things go way wrong. Lisa goes trapped with him, they're in the Bermuda triangle, her magic doesn't work and a hurricane is coming.

This may be my favorite of the Adam West sightings.  With this episode, we learned that Mr. West was an avid collector of squirrel figurines.  And in Wyatt, he found "a worthy adversary".  Meanwhile Gary was ecstatic to meet his childhood TV hero....

I love that one where you and Spock go down to that planet full of gangsters!

Adam West:
That. Was. SHATNER!

The Wayans Bros.
- The Black Widower (1997)
Shawn and Marlon tries to save Grandma from a killer.


- Spies Like Us (1997) 
Pauly and Berger suspect Dawn is sleeping with the new handyman.

Murphy Brown
- Hero Today, Gone Tomorrow (1997)

O'Bservation:In trying to lift the spirits of her former co-worker Stuart Best (now reduced to being a security guard at a journalism museum), Murphy Brown brought in Adam West.  Stuart had saved his souvenir cape and cowl from the show during a fire.  Mr. West declared him not only a hero, but a super-hero.  And Stuart was convinced that Mr. West was really Bruce Wayne.
- A Girl's Gotta Hang with a Celebrity (1998) 

- Clash of the Titans (1998) 
After beating the D.B. Cooper case in court, Mr. James comes back to find he cannot get rid of Johnny since he was made CEO in Mr. James' absence.

Mr. James got Adam West to confess to D.B Cooper's crime and West really went over the top with his confession......

Adam West:
"I was short on cash, I had bad representation, I was desperate ... 
Judge not a man by the size of his shoes!

The Bronx Bunny Show 
- Episode #1.10 (2003) 

The Mullets 
- Silent But Deadly (2004) 

The King of Queens
- Shear Torture (2005)
Spence wants to go to a Fantasy Fest with Lou Ferrigno but dumps him after Adam West agrees to go to the Fest with Spence. Meanwhile Doug frequently visits a very pretty hairdresser.

[Spence has decided not to take Lou Ferrigno to a Sci-Fi convention because Adam West agreed to go]

Adam West: 
If you ran into Bill Shatner this morning, would you have dumped me too?

Spence Olchin: 
I want to say "no," but I'm so weak.

[to Doug]
Lou Ferrigno: 
We hear you have a hot hairdresser.

Adam West: 
We want in!

That one bit of dialogue is full of Zonks, but it's oh so good....

30 Rock
- Apollo, Apollo (2009) 
Liz is upset when she finds out that her ex-boyfriend Dennis slept with Jenna, Jack reminisces about his youth on the eve of his birthday, and Tracy prepares to go into space.

Adam West was represented by Grizz's talent agency, so they were able to get that scratched off of Jack's 5th grade bucket list.

The Big Bang Theory 
- The Celebration Experimentation (2016) 
The gang convince Sheldon to celebrate his birthday and throw him a party.

Sheldon's birthday is approaching, and Amy wants to throw him a party despite he not ever having wanted a birthday party in the past. When Amy, Leonard, and Penny learn the reason why he's never wanted a party, they assure him that this one will make up for the disappointments that were his birthday parties when he was a child. In trying to figure out what to get him for a present, Leonard, Howard and Raj decide that what would make up for those childhood party disappointments would be to have a Batman show up, specifically in the form of Adam West. Even with all the details of what Sheldon wants for his birthday, such as a three layer chocolate cake with strawberry frosting, Sheldon will have to overcome a lot of bad memories to make it through what his friends want to be a good party for him.

Adam West: 
There's another reason I should be higher on the list: 
all those other guys had muscles built in their costumes. 
All I had on my bat-suit was 100% grade-A West.

Eventually Adam West will see two of his characters be inducted into the Hall and may be the only person from the real world with four entries into the Hall.
But even so (not that it's that great an honor), it pales in the face of this fact - we have lost Adam West.

Good night and may God bless, Old Chum.....

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