Adam West, the first actor to shape the on-screen role of Batman in the 1960s, died Friday night. He was 88.
He passed away surrounded by family in Los Angeles after battling Leukemia, a family spokesman told the Hollywood Reporter.
“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” the family said in a statement.
West portrayed the Caped Crusader on ABC’s “Batman” from 1966 to 1968, facing off against an all-star cast of villains that included Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Vincent Price as Egghead, Ceasar Romero as The Joker and Julie Newmar as Catwoman.
The campy version of the show was also adapted into a 1966 film, “Batman: The Movie.”
The show’s ratings began to dwindle by 1968, however, and it was canceled that March after three seasons.
Despite its short tenure, the show — and West — developed a cult following.
West couldn’t match his fame as Batman, and he often appeared at conventions sporting the batsuit.
He reprised the role for the short-lived “The New Adventures of Batman” animated series in 1977.
The cartoon, which reunited him with co-star Burt Ward as sidekick Robin, lasted just 16 episodes.
Ward’s friendship with West lasted long after “Batman” was canceled almost 50 years ago.
“We shared some of the must fun times of our lives together; our families have deep love and respect for each other,” Ward said in a statement. “There are several fine actors who have portrayed Batman in films, in my eyes there was only one real Batman and that is and always will be Adam West; He was truly the Bright Knight.”
Adam West was born on Sept. 19, 1928, in Walla Walla, Wash. He moved to Seattle with his mother at 15 after his parents divorced. He headed for Hawaii to begin his acting career following a stint in the Army.
In 1959 he appeared in “The Young Philadelphians” starring Paul Newman, and appeared in multiple Westerns and crime TV shows in the 1960s before landing his “Batman” role.
West’s made a number of cameos in his later years — often alongside Ward — as himself or a spoofed version of his campy Batman.
He cut out a new role for himself with a younger audience in the 2000s on Fox’s “Family Guy.” West portrayed a fictionalized version of himself as mayor of the show’s made-up town, Quhoge.
West put his cape and cowl back on for last year’s “Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders,” an animated film that once again reunited him with Ward and Newmar.
“It’s amazing when you say ‘be back,’ because it’s like it never really went away,” West told the Daily News last October. “Wherever I go they love Batman, and, you know, consequently, I learned to love ‘Batman’ because it gives people happy times. I guess I’m the funny Batman, which is okay to deliver the laughs.”
Memorials began pouring in Saturday in wake of West’s passing.
“Devastated to hear the news about Adam West this morning. A true legend. #RIPAdamWest” New York Comic Con tweeted.
Newmar remembered her co-star as “stellar, exemplar, a king to the end.”
“He was bright, witty and fun to work with,” she said in a statement. “I will miss him in the physical world and savor him always in the world of imagination and creativity. He meant so much to people – A friend said: ‘The father that we wanted.’ That is a great gift, no matter how you live it.”