Adam West, whose straight-faced portrayal of Batman in a 1960s TV series lifted the tight-clad Caped Crusader into the national consciousness, has died at age 88, his family said Saturday on a verified Facebook page.
West died Friday night after “a short but brave battle with leukemia,” the family statement said.
West played the superhero straight for kids and funny for adults. He initially chaffed at being typecast after “Batman” went off the air after three seasons, but in later years he admitted he was pleased to have had a role in kicking off a big-budget film franchise by showing the character’s wide appeal.
“You get terribly typecast playing a character like that,” he told The Associated Press in a 2014 interview.
“But in the overall, I’m delighted because my character became iconic and has opened a lot of doors in other ways, too.” He returned to the role in an episode of the animated “The Simpsons.”
And more recently, he did the voice of nutty Mayor Adam West in the long-running “Family Guy” series.
“He was bright, witty and fun to work with,” Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman to West’s Batman, said in a statement Saturday. “I will miss him in the physical world and savor him always in the world of imagination and creativity.”
In April 2012, West received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Born William West Anderson in Walla Walla, Washington, he moved to Seattle at age 15 with his mother after his parents divorced.
He graduated from Whitman College, a private liberal arts school, in Walla Walla.
After serving in the Army, he went to Hollywood and changed his name to Adam West, and began appearing on a number of television series, including “Bonanza,” ”Perry Mason” and “Bewitched.”
“Batman” was the role he would remain associated with throughout his life.
The TV show was among the most popular in 1966, the year of its debut, and some of the era’s top actors signed on to play villains. Burgess Meredith squawked as the Penguin. Eartha Kitt purred as Catwoman. And Cesar Romero cackled as the Joker.
Years later, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck would don Bruce Wayne’s camouflaging cape and cowl.
Filmmakers Edgar Wright and Leslye Headland were among those lamenting West’s death on Twitter.
“Farewell Adam West. You were MY Batman,” Wright wrote. “Such a super funny, cool, charismatic actor. Loved the show as a kid, still love the show now. POW!”
Headland wrote: My childhood hero & still my favorite Batman. RIP Adam West. #pow”
West was married three times, and had six children. He had homes in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, but he and his wife, Marcelle, spent most of their time at their ranch near Sun Valley, Idaho. (AP)
Adam West with Barney the monkey, 1964
His own space suit, with oxygen tank, doesn’t make Barney the monkey any happier as he and actor Adam West view the situation in their space capsule in Hollywood on Jan. 24, 1964. Barney, a South American woolly monkey, is blasted into space with West, as an astronaut, in a new movie, “Robinson Crusoe On Mars.” ( Photo: AP)
Adam West stands on a sailboat, circa 1965
American actor Adam West, of the television series, ‘Batman,’ stands outdoors on a sailboat, holding a mast line with the wind blowing his hair, circa 1965. (Photo : Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Adam West poses as Batman, circa 1966
Adam West poses in costume as Batman in front of a yellow backdrop in a promotional portrait for the television series, ‘Batman,’ circa 1966. (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, Burt Ward, Adam West and Julie Newmar in ‘Batman,’ 1966
Burgess Meredith playing the Penguin, Cesar Romero playing the Joker, Burt Ward playing Robin, Adam West playing Batman and American actress Julie Newmar playing Catwoman appear in a still from the TV series “Batman,” 1966. (Photo: Mondadori Portfolio by Getty Images)
Adam West, and Judy West arrive for a premiere, 1966
Television star of “Batman” fame Adam West, and Judy West arrive for the premiere of the film “Hawaii,” Oct. 12, 1966 in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo: Harold P. Matosian/AP)
Burt Ward and Adam West as Batman and Robin, 1967
Burt Ward, left, and Adam West pause in a still from the television series “Batman,” circa 1967. (Photo: 20th Century Fox/Getty Images)
Adam West in ‘Batman,’ 1966
Adam West puts on the mask of the comics superhero Batman in the TV series “Batman,” 1966. (Photo: Mondadori Portfolio by Getty Images)
Adam West and Jill St. John at a premiere, 1966
Adam West and Jill St. John smile and hold hands at the premiere of director John Huston’s film, “The Bible,” Oct. 1966.’ They are standing in front of a billboard advertising the film. (Photo: Max B. Miller/Fotos International/Getty Images)
Adam West in ‘Batman,’ 1966
Adam West, wears the costume of the comics superhero Batmanin a still from the TV series “Batman,” 1966. (Photo: Mondadori Portfolio by Getty Images)
Adam West drives the original Batmobile
Adam West, in full Batman costume, drives the original Batmobile, which is really a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car weighing nearly three tons. (Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images)
Milton Berle with Adam West as Batman, 1966
Milton Berle returns for a second time as guest-host on ABC-TV’s “Hollywood Palace” in color, March 5, 1966 and welcomes television’s brightest, new star Batman, portrayed by Adam West, who will join Berle in a skit on the weekly variety spectacular. (Photo: AP)
Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin in the Batmobile, 1966
Actors Adam West (left) and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin in the Batmobile in a still from the television series, “Batman,” 1966. (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Adam West as Millionaire Wayne in ‘Batman,’ 1966
Promotional studio portrait of Adam West, from the television series “Batman” standing with his thumb in the vest pocket of his tuxedo, circa 1966. (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Scene from ‘The Bookworm’ episode,1966
Left to right: Stafford Repp, Chief of Police; Adam West as Batman; Neil Hamilton as Commissioner and Burt Ward as Robin in a scene from “The Bookworm” episode in the “Batman” TV series. (Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images)
Adam West on the set of ‘Batman,’ 1966
Adam West, star of the television series “Batman,” stands beside the Batmobile and shows off his “Bat Radio,” on the Hollywood set for the series during filming of an episode, March 18, 1966. (Photo: AP)
Adam West and Barbara Parkins arrive for a premiere, 1966
Adam West, who plays television’s Batman, and Barbara Parkins of “Peyton Place” arrive for the premiere of “The Blue Max” in Hollywood, June 28, 1966. (Photo: Harold P. Matosian/AP)
Dina Burke lunches with Adam West, 1966
Wide-eyed Dina Burke, 8, whose father donated $1,000 to charity so she could lunch with TV’s Batman, offers The Bat – Adam West – a French fry during lunch at a Hollywood restaurant in Los Angeles, June 28, 1966. Her father, actor Paul Burke, donated the money at a Hollywood charity auction. (Photo/Ellis R. Bosworth/AP)
Adam West films a road safety ad for children, 1967
Adam West dressed as Batman for the filming of a road safety ad for children, May 7, 1967. (Photo: Watson/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Adam West, former star of television’s “Batman,” is seen, Dec. 11, 1985. (Photo: Lennox McLendon/AP)
Adam West and Burt Ward pose at the ‘World of Wheels’ custom car show
Actors Adam West, left, and Burt Ward, dressed as their characters (Zappp!) Batman and (Powww!) Robin, pause during an appearance Jan. 27, 1989 at the “World of Wheels” custom car show in Chicago. (Photo: Mark Elias/AP)
Adam West sits atop the original Batmobile at RetroFest, 1999
Adam West, who portrayed the title character in the 1960’s television series “Batman,” poses atop the original Batmobile used in the hit series during an appearance at the first annual RetroFest, Aug. 14, 1999, in Santa Monica. The RetroFest, a three day pop culture festival celebrating the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, was sponsored by Rhino Records and cable television channel TV Land. (Photo: Rose Prouser/Reuters)
Adam West, 1993
Actor Adam West is shown in 1993. (Photo: AP)
Adam West signs photosgraphs
A fan holds a Batman photograph signed by Adam West, right, at Cobo Hall during the 50th Autorama in Detroit, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2002. (Photo: Paul Warner/AP)
Julie Newmar with Adam West in 2006
Actress Julie Newmar (l) and actor Adam West, stars of the 1960’s television series “Batman” pose as they arrive for a taping of the TV Land awards show March 19, 2006 in Santa Monica, Calif. Newmar portrayed Catwoman and West Batman in the series. The awards show which honors classic television performers and their shows will be telecast on the TV Land cable channel March 22. (Photo: Fred Prouser/Reuters)
Burt Ward and Adam West together in 2006
Burt Ward (l) and Adam West of “Batman” attend the 4th annual TV Land Awards held at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif., on March 19, 2006. (Photo: Phil McCarten/Reuters)
Adam West at his Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, 2012
Actor Adam West poses for photographers at a ceremony where he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, Calif., April 5, 2012. (Photo: Phil McCarten/Reuters)
Adam West receives his star, 2012
Actor Adam West (C) poses with actor and producer Seth MacFarlane (L), Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leron Gubler, City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, and radio personality Ralph Garman, after receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, Calif., April 5, 2012. (Photo: Phil McCarten/Reuters)
Adam West acknowledges the crowd, 2012
Actor Adam West acknowledges the crowd at the ceremony where he will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, Calif., April 5, 2012. (Photo: Phil McCarten/Reuters)