Saturday, 10 June 2017

RIP Adam West

William West Anderson, better-known to humanity as Adam West, has sadly passed away at the age of 88 after a short battle with leukaemia. West was a handsome leading man with a fine gift for self-deprecation, who achieved immense early success in a iconic role, endured a few fallow years, and then returned to prominence in later life.

West started out with bit roles in TV and film, making his first screen appearance in 1959. However, West became best-known for playing Batman on the original Batman TV series from 1966 to 1968. Although the run was short in length of time, an insane production schedule saw West chalk up 120 episodes and a theatrical movie in that period.

In 1970 West was offered the role of James Bond. He turned it down, believing that an English actor should play the role. The role instead went to the strikingly similar actor (in acting methodology, wit, charm and even appearance) Roger Moore.

West made numerous small film and television appearances in the 1970s and 1980s, but was typecast by his performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. In 1992 his situation was lampshaded in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, where Batman encounters a washed-up actor who starred in his favourite childhood TV series, "The Grey Ghost", and hasn't been able to work since. The writers were uncertain if they were being disrespectful by offering West the role, but he snapped it up and enjoyed playing a character with real depth. Shortly after this he played himself on the popular Mr. Plow episode of The Simpsons.

These roles led to a career resurgence. In 1994 he joined the cast of the short-lived cult anthology comedy series Danger Theatre. West played the police captain of a Hawaii-based crime-fighting unit, parodying his role of Bruce Wayne by being almost completely inept. In 2000 he started playing himself on Family Guy. In this role he was the mayor of the town of Qahog, the main setting for the show, and made frequent appearances in a supporting role. His vocal skills also saw him appearing on Futurama and Rugrats.

West returned to the Batman franchise in animation, voicing Batman's father Thomas Wayne on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. In 2016 he voiced Batman once again in the animated film Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, reuniting with Burt Ward as Robin and Julie Newmar as Catwoman. A sequel was planned with William Shatner playing Two-Face, but it's unclear if this has entered production.

RIP Adam West, whose comedic (but straight-faced) reinterpretation of Batman remains one of the character's most memorable versions.

ETA: According to io9, West had completed work on Batman vs. Two-Face and it will be out later this year.

1 comment:

Stonewielder said...

James Bone?? Should correct that one, yeah? ;-)