Monday, June 12, 2017

Remembering Adam West

This one hit me hard, folks, and I learned about it much the same way I had heard that John Lennon was dead. I awoke the next morning to my radio playing Beatles song after Beatles song, thinking what a great way to start the morning, with Beatles music.

For Adam West, it was similar, happy to sad. I had just spent a terrific day with The Bride at EPCOT, we were getting on the bus, and I checked my phone, hitting Facebook. I saw a really cool picture I'd seen before - my good friend Andy Burns, our friend JP Fallavollita, and Andy's daughter (in fierce Wonder Woman cosplay) standing in front of the Batmobile (the real Batmobile) with, you guessed it, Adam West and Burt Ward. I was jealous the first time I saw the picture, and jealous this time, so I posted as much. I was in a good mood, and then I saw other Facebook posts on my feed… Adam West had passed away at the age of 88. I was crushed. It was if my childhood had dropped out from under me. I was staggered by this for a couple days. It couldn't be true.

My earliest memory regards an incident in my family first house.  I was around two and stepped on a heating grate burning my foot.  I don't remember any of that, but what I vividly do recall is my brother giving me a toy Batmobile to get me to stop crying.  At our second house shortly after that the room I shared with my big brother had only two things on the walls: a Detroit Lions pennant and a picture of Batman.  I have talked before about the 1966-69 "Batman" TV series starring Adam West being the gateway drug to comics for not only myself, but for an entire generation.  In many ways, my childhood has taken a hell of a hit. 

Adam West as Batman affects me to this day.  This past weekend I thought of him on three different occasions before learning of his passing.  Andy's photo on Facebook was one.  I saw Return of the Caped Crusaders on Blu-Ray in a store and I thought I needed to own it sooner or later.  And at EPCOT on the Test Track ride, I deliberately tried to design a car just like the Batmobile

Other than his wild global success as Batman, Adam West had a pretty rough life, battling depression, alcoholism, and typecasting.  It wasn't until he came to terms with always being remembered as Batman that things turned around for him. Gone were the days of getting shot out of a cannon and doing terrible pilots like "The Precinct."  Batman could overcome anything.  His unique deadpan camp humor even found a home on "Family Guy," conquering a whole new television generation. I even met him once, great guy.

Adam got the Batman gig after producers saw him playing a James Bond parody for Nestle Quik commercials.  Ironically he would be considered for the role of the real Bond years later.  He beat Lyle Waggoner for the title role on "Batman," who probably would not have been able to pull it off.  Batman would take over the world – Adam West himself has been quoted as saying that the sixties were all about the three Bs - Beatles, Bond, and Batman - and it's true.  And "Batman" would not have worked without West.  He was the only choice. 

West had done other things, movies like Mara of the Wilderness, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and Poor Devil all of which I loved, and are recommended, but he always returned to Batman, whether it was on "Superfriends," the 1970s Filmation "Batman," as the Grey Ghost, Back to the Batcave, or the aforementioned Return of the Caped Crusaders

Adam West passed away on Saturday after a short battle with leukemia, he was 88.  In my mind and in my heart, he will live forever as the only Batman that counts.  We have lost a true legend, and the Bat-Signal burns for you, my friend. 

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