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Adam West, Batman Of The 1960s, Dies At 88, After Short Battle With Leukemia

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Adam West, Batman Of The 1960s, Dies At 88, After Short Battle With Leukemia

Remembrances

Adam West, Batman Of The 1960s, Dies At 88, After Short Battle With Leukemia

Adam West, Batman Of The 1960s, Dies At 88, After Short Battle With Leukemia

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Adam West was best known for his portrayal as Batman in the campy 1960s TV show. He died Friday night at the age of 88.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Adam West, the actor best known as Batman in the 1966 film and TV series, has died. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says West became a pop culture icon and played off his typecasting in later roles.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEAL HEFTI'S SONG, "BATMAN THEME")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Batman.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Adam West's turn as the straight-arrow, super earnest, caped crusader was an instant hit on television in the mid-1960s.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BATMAN")

ADAM WEST: (As Bruce Wayne/Batman) When dealing with powerful criminal elements, one can never be too well-prepared. Let's go.

DEGGANS: In an interview for the Archive of American Television, West explained one important key to playing the character.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WEST: Batman could never be subtle, and he - my Batman at least, I don't know, must always believe that nobody could recognize him even though his voice was the same and so on.

DEGGANS: Bursting onto TV screens in gray tights, a dark cowl and yellow utility belt, Batman was a living comic book. West played him without a hint of irony.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WEST: When you're playing Batman, it's like you can get away with anything because Batman is such an innocent.

DEGGANS: West earned early fame acting in TV Westerns. He was cast as Batman after appearing in a Nestle's Quik commercial as an Americanized version of James Bond. The "Batman" TV show aired from 1966 to 1968 and a feature-length movie was released in 1966. West admitted the role, which made him a pop culture icon, also left him struggling with typecasting for years after the series ended. But West eventually appeared in nearly 50 films and more TV shows. He developed a career as a voice actor, often playing roles that spoofed his Batman-Bruce-Wayne persona, including playing a mayor named Adam West on the Fox TV show "Family Guy."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WEST: (Singing) Adam West, Adam West.

A little bit softer now.

(Singing) Adam West, Adam West.

DEGGANS: In his interview with the Archive of American Television, West says he made his peace with the shadow that Batman cast over his career.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WEST: My attitude now is how many actors get the chance to create a signature role, something that will go on after, you know, they're gone? It's a wonderful thing.

DEGGANS: West died Friday night after a short battle with leukemia. He was 88. Eric Deggans, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEAL HEFTI'S SONG, "BATMAN THEME")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing) Batman. Batman. Batman.

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