Original Batman Adam West has died aged 88.
West starred in the Batman TV series and in the 1966 movie version, winning over fans with his tongue-in-cheek portrayal and low-tech costume.
The US actor died of leukaemia in Los Angeles on Friday after a “short but brave battle”, a family spokesperson told the press. The statement continued: “Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero.”
While Batman was the role that made West famous, he took on almost 200 TV series and movies in a career spanning seven decades.
In recent years he earned a new young fan base as a voice actor, starring in animated series Family Guy as Quahog’s oddball mayor Adam West. Last year he also made a guest appearance in US sitcom The Big Bang Theory.
The Batman TV series was an unexpected hit with West as the caped crusader. While recent versions of Batman have featured high-tech costumes with molded six-packs and epic battle scenes, the original was a much more scaled-back affair.
On-screen comic book graphics of Wham! and Pow! gave the fight scenes a comic touch, while West and his co-star Burt Ward, who played sidekick Robin, were beloved for their kitsch portrayal of the “Dynamic Duo”. Batman’s outfit was made out of a stretchy fabric and topped off with a cape that could easily be recreated by small children using a black bin-bag.
The actress Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman, told the BBC that West was “bright, witty and fun to work with”.
“I will miss him in the physical world and savour him always in the world of imagination and creativity,” she said.
Val Kilmer and Ben Affleck, who each later stepped into West’s shoes (and cape) to play Batman, also paid their respects:
Star Wars actor Mark Hamill – who, like West, has embraced the fandom around the show that made him famous – shared a very personal tribute.
In fact, West had a lot of friends and admirers in Hollywood.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane also paid tribute, saying: “He knew comedy, and he knew humanity.”