Actor Adam West, who originated the role of Batman through the kitschy 1960s TV series, died Friday at age 88, his family posted on Twitter.
While Christian Bale might be the actor that Gen Xers and Millennials most closely associate with the Caped Crusader, for baby boomers, it has been and will always be West.
"The new movies have so much talent and expertise and production values, but our little TV show and our earlier movie go on and on," he said during an interview before a 2014 Comic-Con panel with Burt Ward, who played Robin, and Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman. "We're not grotesque in any way. We're maybe bizarre and zany. We have the splash, the adventure, the costumes (and) the crazy villains for the kids and the adults enjoy the satire."
Our beloved AW passed away last night. He was the greatest. We'll miss him like crazy. We know you'll miss him too - West Family pic.twitter.com/8bkEq1C2ao— Adam West (@therealadamwest) June 10, 2017
Although the series was popular and has spawned a recent comic-book series, Batman '66, West's lighter take on the Dark Knight, in stark contrast to later dramatic portrayals, wasn't always been embraced.
"When I started in that first pilot with Frank Gorshin as Riddler, I got quite a bit of criticism," he said. "They wanted the character more Lone Ranger, but my sensibility told me that if I played it with a kind of twinkle, looser and in a more bizarre, funny way, that it might have some longevity. And maybe I was right. It looks pretty good now."
West had many favorite guest villains from the '60s series. "No. 1 was Frank Gorshin as Riddler, because Frank always played with manic intensity and it was good to play off," he said. "Burgess Meredith (as The Penguin), Cesar Romero (as The Joker). My God, they were good. They were high-energy, prepared and they always brought something fresh."
Asked about Newmar, he said, "I didn't want to talk about Julie, because I get curious stirrings in my utility belt."
West, so associated with Batman, was iconic in his own right, too, voicing the character of Adam West on such animated series as Family Guy and The Fairly OddParents.
"I really don't think much about (iconic status). I just try to do it to make people happy and to make them laugh. It's a wonderful thing for me," he said.
Although West received many benefits from his association with the DC Comics hero, he suffered the actor's scourge: typecasting.
"When you run around in a funny costume and fight crime 24/7, some old-guard producers think, 'That's just natural and that's what he does always.' But they're forgetting that now," he said.
West was proud of the iconic Batman character, which Ben Affleck played recently, but actually wearing the cape and cowl posed challenges.
"The costume was uncomfortable. The cowl was very tight and I couldn't see down and around, but you deal with those things. They paid me well," he said. "You make the costume work for you. Ben Affleck, if you're (reading), make the costume work for you!"
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