Adam West

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Adam West
Adam West by Gage Skidmore.jpg
West in June 2014
BornWilliam West Anderson
(1928-09-19) September 19, 1928 (age 86)
Walla Walla, Washington U.S.
EducationLakeside School
Alma materWhitman College
OccupationActor, voice actor
Years active1954–present
Known forBatman, Mayor West
TelevisionBatman, Family Guy
Spouse(s)
  • Billie Lou Yeager (m. 1950–56)
  • Frisbie Dawson (m. 1957–62)
  • Marcelle Tagand Lear (m. 1970)
Children6
Website
www.adamwest.com
 
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This article is about the actor. For the Family Guy character voiced by him, see Mayor West. For other uses, see Adam West (disambiguation).
Adam West
Adam West by Gage Skidmore.jpg
West in June 2014
BornWilliam West Anderson
(1928-09-19) September 19, 1928 (age 86)
Walla Walla, Washington U.S.
EducationLakeside School
Alma materWhitman College
OccupationActor, voice actor
Years active1954–present
Known forBatman, Mayor West
TelevisionBatman, Family Guy
Spouse(s)
  • Billie Lou Yeager (m. 1950–56)
  • Frisbie Dawson (m. 1957–62)
  • Marcelle Tagand Lear (m. 1970)
Children6
Website
www.adamwest.com

William West Anderson (born September 19, 1928), better known by his stage name Adam West, is an American actor. After six decades in television, he is perhaps best known for the title role in the 1960s ABC series Batman and its theatrical feature film. More recently, he is known for portraying eccentric or psychotically delusional characters, as well as his voice work on animated series such as The Fairly OddParents and Family Guy, in both of which he voices fictional versions of himself.

Early life[edit]

West was born on September 19, 1928, in Walla Walla, Washington,[1] to Otto West Anderson (January 25, 1903 – October 9, 1984)[2][unreliable source?][3] and Audrey V. Speer (1906–69).[4] His paternal grandparents were Swedish.[2] He attended Walla Walla High School during his freshman and sophomore years, and later enrolled in Lakeside School in Seattle. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and a minor in Psychology from Whitman College[5] in Walla Walla where he was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and participated on the speech and debate team. Drafted in the US Army, he served as an announcer on American Forces Network television.

Early roles[edit]

Later, while living in Hawaii, West picked a role as the sidekick on a children's show called El Kini Popo Show, which featured a chimp. West later took over as star of the show.[6]

West in The Detectives in 1961.

In 1959, West moved to Hollywood and took the stage name Adam West. In his autobiography Back to the Batcave he explains that he chose 'Adam' simply because he liked the way it looked and sounded with 'West', his middle name. His close friends and family still call him "Bill".

He appeared in the film The Young Philadelphians including Paul Newman, and guest-starred in a number of television Westerns. On three Warner Brothers westerns aired on ABC, Sugarfoot, Colt .45, and Lawman, West played the role of Doc Holliday, the frontier dentist and gunfighter. He portrayed Wild Bill Hickok in the episode "Westbound Stage" of the 1960 NBC western series Overland Trail, with William Bendix and Doug McClure.

He guest starred on Edmond O'Brien's syndicated crime drama Johnny Midnight and soon snagged a supporting role as police sergeant Steve Nelson in the crime drama, The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor. He made a few guest appearances on Perry Mason in the early 1960s and appeared once on Walter Brennan's sitcom, The Real McCoys.

On January 10, 1961, West appeared as a young ambitious deputy who foolishly confronts a gunfighter named Clay Jackson, portrayed by Jock Mahoney, in the episode "The Man from Kansas" of the NBC western series Laramie. Jackson is a "Robin Hood" masked gunslinger and bandit whose presence in Laramie brings Jess Harper and Slim Sherman (series characters played by Robert Fuller and John Smith) into conflict over Jackson's veracity. From the start, Slim had considered Jackson a cutthroat and is proved correct as the plot unfolds.[7][unreliable source?]

West made two guest appearances on Perry Mason in 1961 and 1962. His first role was as small-town journalist Dan Southern in "The Case of the Barefaced Witness." His other role was as folk singer Pete Norland in "The Case of the Bogus Books."

West starred in an episode of the original ABC Outer Limits television series titled "The Invisible Enemy". He made a brief appearance in the film Soldier in the Rain starring Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen and starred as Major Dan McCready, the ill-fated mission commander of 'Mars Gravity Probe 1' in the 1964 film Robinson Crusoe on Mars. In 1965, he was cast in the comedy western The Outlaws Is Coming, the last feature film starring The Three Stooges. He played the character Christopher Rolf in the episode "Stopover", of ABC's The Rifleman , which aired on April 25, 1961.

West as Batman

Batman[edit]

Producer William Dozier cast West as Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, Batman, in the television series Batman, in part after seeing West perform as the James Bond-like spy Captain Q in a Nestlé Quik television ad. West was in competition with Lyle Waggoner for the Batman role.

The popular campy show ran on ABC from 1966 to 1968; a film version was released in 1966.[8]

In 1970, West was offered the role of James Bond by Cubby Broccoli for the film Diamonds Are Forever. West did not accept, later stating in his autobiography that he believed the role should always be played by a British actor. The potential casting as Bond became moot when Broccoli convinced Sean Connery to return to the role.

Post-Batman career[edit]

After his high-profile role, West, along with Burt Ward and Yvonne Craig (who played crime-fighting sidekicks Robin and Batgirl), was severely typecast. West's first post-Caped Crusader role was in the film The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1969). His lead performance against type as cynical tough guy Johnny Cain did not erode his Batman image; the movie was a box office disappointment.

West in 1989 at the 41st Primetime Emmy Awards

For a time, West made a living doing personal appearances as Batman. In 1972, when Ward and Craig reprised their Batman roles for a TV public-service announcement about equal pay for women, West was absent. Instead, Dick Gautier filled in as Batman. One of his more memorable Batman appearances post-series was when he made an appearance in the Memphis, Tennessee based United States Wrestling Association to engage in a war of words with Jerry "The King" Lawler while wearing the cowl and a track suit and even name-dropping Spider-Man, though he is a Marvel Comics hero.[9]

West subsequently appeared in the theatrical films The Marriage of a Young Stockbrocker (1971), The Curse of the Moon Child (1972), The Specialist (1975), Hardcore (1977), Hooper (as himself; 1978), The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood (1980) and One Dark Night (1983). West also appeared in such television films as The Eyes of Charles Sand (1972), Poor Devil (1973), Nevada Smith (1975), For the Love of It (1980) and I Take These Men (1983).

He did guest shots on the TV shows Love, American Style, The Big Valley, Night Gallery, Alias Smith and Jones, Mannix, Emergency!, Alice, Police Woman, Operation Petticoat, The American Girls, Vega$, Big Shamus Little Shamus, Laverne & Shirley, Bewitched, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, Zorro, The King of Queens, and George Lopez. West was also in an episode of Bonanza that supposedly never aired until reruns were shown. West also made several guest appearances as himself on Family Feud. In 1986, West starred in the TV comedy cop show titled The Last Precinct.

Return to Batman[edit]

West often reprised his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne, first in the short-lived animated series, The New Adventures of Batman, and in other shows such as The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour, Tarzan and the Super 7, Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (succeeding Olan Soule in the role). In 1979, West once again donned the Batsuit for the live-action TV special Legends of the Superheroes.[6] In 1985, DC Comics named West as one of the honorees in the company's 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great for his work on the Batman series.[10]

West was considered to play Thomas Wayne in Tim Burton's Batman. Originally, he wanted to play Batman.[11][12] West made an appearance in a 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series on Fox, but not as Batman (as the role of Batman was already being played by Kevin Conroy). Instead, he portrayed Simon Trent, a washed-up actor who used to play a superhero in a TV series called The Gray Ghost and who now has difficulty finding work (which was essentially a mirror story of West's own career at the time). West later had a recurring role as the voice of Mayor Grange in the WB animated series The Batman.

The actor vocally reprised his role as Batman for the CGI animated short film Batman: New Times. He co-starred with Mark Hamill, who vocally portrayed The Joker and had originally played the role on Batman: The Animated Series. West also voiced Tom Wayne, Bruce Wayne's father, in an episode of the cartoon series Batman: The Brave and the Bold. In the same series, he played Batman's prototype robot, aptly named "Protobot", or "Proto" for short.

1990s–2000s[edit]

West at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con

During the 1990s, West's status as a pop culture icon led to appearances as himself in the film Drop Dead Gorgeous and in several television series, including NewsRadio, Murphy Brown, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, The Ben Stiller Show[13] and The Drew Carey Show.[14] In 1991, he starred in the pilot episode of Lookwell, in which he portrayed a has-been TV action hero who falsely believes he can solve mysteries in real life. The pilot, written by Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel in their pre-Late Night period, aired on NBC that summer but was not picked up as a series.[15] It was later broadcast on the Trio channel, under the "Brilliant But Cancelled" bloc.[16] In 1994, West played a non comedic role as the father of Peter Weller's character in the Michael Tolkin film, The New Age.

Notably, he played a washed up superhero in the Goosebumps television series episode "Attack of the Mutant". The boy hero is a comic book geek whose favorite superhero, Galloping Gazelle (West's character), is portrayed as fading and on the verge of retirement. Towards the end, the boy is shocked to learn that the Gazelle is real, though he must save the day by himself.

In 1994, West, with Jeff Rovin, wrote his autobiography, Back to the Batcave published by Berkeley Books. He also appeared as a guest in the animated talk show Space Ghost Coast to Coast in an episode titled "Batmantis," where he displayed his book. In 1996, Virgin Interactive released the gambling simulation game Golden Nugget on PlayStation. Adam West acted in the video cut scenes of the "Chaos Mystery" storyline subgame. In 2001, he played the super-villain Breathtaker on the short-lived TV series Black Scorpion.

In 2003, West and Burt Ward starred in the TV-movie Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, alongside Frank Gorshin, Julie Newmar, and Lee Meriwether. Jack Brewer portrayed West in flashbacks to the production of Batman. In 2005, West appeared in the CBS show The King of Queens. In the episode, Spence first asks Lou Ferrigno to go to a sci-fi convention. But when Spence meets West (playing himself), he leaves Ferrigno and asks West to come with him. West appears prominently in the 2006 video for California band STEFY's song "Chelsea" as "Judge Adam West", presiding over the courtroom scene.

In 2007, Adam West played an attorney for Benny on the show George Lopez, and starred as "The Boss" in the movie comedy Sexina: Popstar PI.[17] Following the release of a Batman game, a host of the show X-Play visited Adam West on the show. In 2009, West played himself in the episode "Apollo, Apollo" of 30 Rock.

Voice-over work[edit]

Having a distinctive voice, West built a career doing voice-over work on a number of animated series (often as himself), including appearances on The Simpsons, Futurama, Rugrats, The Critic, Histeria!, Kim Possible, Johnny Bravo and even in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series called Beware the Gray Ghost, where he voiced the Gray Ghost. He also appeared in many episodes of Nickelodeon's cartoon, The Fairly OddParents, as a cat-obsessed version of himself who is famous for playing a superhero called Catman, and who actually believes he is Catman. Catman is a parody of his earlier character as Batman. A later appearance of Adam West in The Fairly OddParents world was a parody of himself, hired to play the role of the Crimson Chin in the movie of the same name. Yet another appearance on the show had him as himself in a Fairy-sponsored video about how to cope with losing one's fairy godparents.

Since 2000, West has made regular appearances on the animated series Family Guy, on which he plays Mayor Adam West, the lunatic mayor of Quahog, Rhode Island. His role has given him a new wave of popularity since Batman,[18] and lead writer Seth MacFarlane claims to have gone out of his way to avoid typecasting West by deliberately not making any references to Batman.[19] Some of his latest voice-over performances were playing the role of Uncle Art in the Disney film Meet the Robinsons, and voicing the young Mermaid Man (along with Burt Ward, who voiced the young Barnacle Boy) in the cartoon show SpongeBob SquarePants.

West also played the voice of General Carrington in the video game XIII, and has voiced other video games like Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, Chicken Little: Ace in Action, Scooby Doo! Unmasked and Goosebumps: Attack of the Mutant. For the online game Champions Online, his voice is used in one of the website's videos.

West has also done voice-over work for superhero-themed commercials for the investment firm The LendingTree and TV commercials for Hebrew National hot dogs.

2010s–present[edit]

In 2010, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.[20] West received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 5, 2012.[21] His star is located at 6764 Hollywood Blvd in front of the Guinness Museum in Hollywood, California.

West has appeared in a number of videos for Funnyordie.com.[22]

Adam West was interviewed in 2013 on the PBS series called Pioneers of Television in the season three episode called "Superheroes".

West is among the interview subjects in Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, a three-hour documentary narrated by Liev Schreiber that premiered on PBS in October 2013.[23] He has also done voice-over work for Futurama (season 10, episode 9, "Leela and the Genestalk").

In late 2014, West will also be voicing himself and the 1960s version of Batman in the video game Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.

On 9 October 2014 West was a guest star on the "Huffpost Live" show talking about his Batman role and the upcoming release of all 120 episodes of his Batman series. [24]

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Television[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Biography". AdamWest.com. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Otto West Anderson". FindAGrave.com. Retrieved November 3, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Otto West Anderson". May 5, 2011. Archived from the original on November 2, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Audrey V. Flothow (Speer)". May 5, 2011. Archived from the original on November 2, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013. 
  5. ^ Interview, Whitman Magazine, December 2006
  6. ^ a b Adam West at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ "Laramie: "The Man from Kansas", January 10, 1961". Internet Movie Data Base. Archived from the original on August 19, 2013. Retrieved October 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Jean Boone – Interview with Cast of Batman, The Movie (1966)". Gordon Wilkison Collection. Texas Archive of the Moving Image. July 1966. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2011. 
  9. ^ Pro Wrestling Insider: Youtube Video Classic – "Batman" Adam West vs. Jerry Lawler
  10. ^ Marx, Barry, Cavalieri, Joey and Hill, Thomas (w), Petruccio, Steven (a), Marx, Barry (ed). "Adam West Batman Makes Prime Time" Fifty Who Made DC Great: 34 (1985), DC Comics
  11. ^ Batman Adam West Archived June 10, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Batman -Guia Visual Archived June 13, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Adam West biography at Hollywood.com.
  14. ^ Hotel Drew episode summary at TV.com. Archived December 6, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Conan O'Brien bio at TVGuide.com.
  16. ^ Wilonsky, Robert. "12, 2002/culture/end-of-the-road/full End of the Road", the Miami New Times, published December 12, 2002. Retrieved May 30, 2007.
  17. ^ "Adam West and Davy Jones meet Sexina". Archived from the original on December 14, 2008. Retrieved November 16, 2008. 
  18. ^ See main article at Adam West (Family Guy)
  19. ^ Rabin, Nathan (January 26, 2006). "Seth MacFarlane". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2007. 
  20. ^ Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated
  21. ^ "Adam West receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame". March 31, 2012. Archived from the original on June 29, 2012. 
  22. ^ Taylor, Lee Ann (September 19, 2013). "TV’s Batman Adam West Turns 85!". WAAL. Archived September 21, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Logan, Michael (October 14, 2013). "The Comics' Real Heroes". TV Guide. p. 27.
  24. ^ "Batman-Adam-West - Batman the Complete Series". October 8, 2014=October 8, 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  25. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0673974/

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Robert Lowery
Actors to portray Batman
1966 - 1968
Succeeded by
Michael Keaton