Legendary actor Adam West was best known for playing the crime-fighting superhero Batman in the popular sixties television series. Born on September 19, 1928, in Washington, West lost his life to leukemia on June 9, 2017.
After almost a decade of being a “that face is familiar” actor, West went from semi-anonymity to becoming one of the most well-known names in the business. It wasn’t easy when Batman ended, but West did have a resurgence years later. After a successful career, it’s only right to go behind the mask of the caped-crusader to learn a little more about him.
He Wasn’t Born As Adam West
The gentleman fans adored as Adam West was born with a different name. It’s actually William West Anderon.
In his autobiography, Back to the Batcave, he chose Adam because he liked the way it looked and sounded with his middle name.
West Lived With His Mom Following His Parents Divorce
When he was a teenager, West’s parents divorced. He moved with his mother, Audrey, a pianist and opera singer, and his younger brother to Seattle.
After high school, West completed his education at Whitman College where he graduated with a degree in English literature in 1951.
West Served In The Military
Drafted into the United States Army, West served as an announcer on American Forces Network television.
Following his discharge from the army, he worked as a milkman. The newly coveted broadcaster would continue that job until he moved to Hawaii. After all that, West found his way to Hollywood, but he turned down an iconic role that should be played by Brits only.
Moving To Hawaii Was His True Calling
In the mid-fifties, West accepted an offer from a friend to move to Hawaii. That was when he kicked off his career in show business as a presenter on The Kini Popo Show.
With his co-host Peaches, a chimpanzee, West caught the eye of a Hollywood producer, which led to the actor signing a contract with Warner Bros. Studios.
One Of His First Films Co-Starred Paul Newman, But That Opened The Door For More Roles
Upon moving to Hollywood, the actor made his debut in a small, but memorable part in The Young Philadelphians.
West’s co-star was the future star of Slapshot, Paul Newman, but the movie opened the door for more guest-star roles. He’d go on to play Doc Holliday in Sugarfoot and Colt .45.
He Almost Became James Bond But Declined For A Good Reason
Back in the sixties, Sean Connery portrayed the iconic character in five films. After he bowed out, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli were searching a new star, and West was an option.
West turned down the role of a lifetime because he thought that it should be played a Brit and no one else. Just ahead, a breakfast commercial West starred in was enough to convince producers to cast him for his best role.
West Was In The Final Three Stooges Film
In 1965, the sixth and final feature film from the trio was The Outlaws Is Coming. West had a significant role in the film when he played Kenneth Cabot.
In that same year, West continued to add to his already impressive resume. He also headlined the spaghetti western The Relentless Four.
West And Frank Gorshin Were Kicked Out Of An Orgy
One time, West and his Batman co-star, Frank Gorshin, were kicked out of an orgy for staying in their Batman characters.
It all started when the pair decided to go to a Hollywood party they didn’t know much about. Naturally, that’s when they came across the orgy.
Producers Wanted West As Bruce Wayne
Producer William Dozier wanted West to play the cape crusader after seeing the actor perform as a James Bond-like spy in a Nestle Quik commercial.
The only other competition for the role was Lyle Waggoner. Burt Ward was signed on to play Robin, completing one of TV’s most iconic duos. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows on the set. Details about West and Ward’s relationship is still on the way.
Type Casting Put His Career On Pause
West described his post-Batman years as filled with ‘fairly good movies.’ But, whenever the audience saw the actor in a scene, they sat there and would say “There’s Batman.”
In hopes of finding work, West lowered the bar by making guest appearances as Batman at country fairs and rodeos.
West Met The Pope With A Hangover
Being a famous actor had its perks, but one time, West woke up with the worst hangover of his life.
The actor made it to the Vatican where he was at the back of a line of people who knelt down to kiss the Pope’s ring. Rather than vomit of the Pope, West bowed his head slightly and shook his hand.
His Relationship With Burt Ward Was Described As Problematic
West said that Ward fell victim to making up stories to sell books. But in a way, it was flattering because Ward made his co-star sound like he was King Kong.
The pair became unhappy with each other to the point where producers had to rap on their doors simultaneously, leading them out shoulder to shoulder. After being considered a typecast actor, West found a resurgence in his career thanks to one Hollywood director.
West Tied The Knot Three Times
His first marriage was to his college girlfriend Billie Lou Yeager in 1950.
The couple divorced six years later, but the actor wedded a second time in 1957 to Cook Island dancer Ngatokorua Frisbie Dawson. West, then married Marcelle Lear in 1970. Overall, the actor had four children.
He Was The Mayor Of Quahog
In the later years of his career, West played the hilarious yet clueless mayor of Quahog.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane was fortunate enough to have had the privilege of working with West. Many actors and actresses on the show called West to be irreplaceable as the mayor of the town.
West Experienced A Resurgence Thanks To Tim Burton’s Batman
The resurgence happened with the release of Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989. Michael Keaton starred as Bruce Wayne and numerous sequels followed after the film’s success.
West enjoyed a steady stream of voice overwork following his comeback. Outside of Family Guy, he guest-starred on The Fairly Odd Parents and The Big Bang Theory. Just ahead, West made a brief cameo on one of the longest-running sitcoms to this date.
West Teamed Up With Burt Ward And Julie Newmar For An Animated Batman Film
The direct-to-video was based on the sixties Batman TV series. West, Ward, and Newmar reprised their roles of Batman, Robin, and Catwoman.
The animated movie received favorable reviews as it did an excellent job of capturing the iconic sixties show.
Retirement Wasn’t An Option For West
Some actors like to pack it in after doing so many roles, but West didn’t want to miss a thing.
Despite getting older, the actor wanted to keep going because “eighty is the new middle age.” Even after his passing, West did very well at bringing joy to fans of all generations of Batman.
West Guest-Starred As Himself On The Simpsons
West made a cameo in the fourth season on November 19, 1992. In the episode, Homer buys a snow plow and starts a business plowing driveways.
After an unsettling encounter with West, a salesman talks Home into a getting a snowplow, which he reluctantly agrees to purchase.
West Received The 2,468th Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
On April 5, 2012, West was honored by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Fans have waited a very long time for this special moment.
During a span of a 50-year career, West fired up the billion dollar Batman franchise, including the golden years and the classic Batman.
Los Angeles Projected The Bat-Signal As A Tribute To West After His Death
The character’s signature Bat-signal loomed over the City of Angels as the city paid tribute to the actor.
West would lose his battle to leukemia at the age of 88 on June 9, 2017. But his acting and iconic role will never be forgotten by fans of the comic or fans of the actor.