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Adam West, TV's original Batman, dead at 88

June 10, 2017 - 11:34 am

(HOLLYWOOD) -- Adam West, best known as the actor who portrayed TV's camp, original Batman, has died at age 88.

A family statement posted to West's official Facebook page reads: "It's with great sadness that we are sharing this news...Adam West passed away peacefully last night after a short but brave battle with leukemia. He was a beloved father, husband, grandfather, and great-grandfather. There are no words to describe how much we'll miss him. We know you'll miss him too and we want you to know how much your love and support meant to him throughout the years. Hug your loved ones today."

William West Anderson was born Sept. 19, 1928 in Walla Walla, Washington.  West attended a private liberal arts college in his hometown, after which he was drafted in the U.S. Army.  It was there he got his first taste as an entertainer, serving as an announcer on American Forces Network television.

After minor TV roles, West's career truly began when he moved to Hollywood with his family in 1959. He officially changed his name and appeared in films including Geronimo, The Outlaws Is Coming, and the sci-fi flick Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and also won roles in film and television Westerns.

But West became a household name after taking on the role as the Caped Crusader in the ABC TV series Batman, which aired from 1966 to 1968, winning the role over later Carol Burnett Show star Lyle Waggoner.  The series also featured Burt Ward as Dick Grayson, aka Batman's sidekick, Robin, as well as a who's-who of weekly celebrity guest stars playing villains.

The TV series' success led to West taking on the role in a 1966 big-screen adaptation. In fact, West holds the Guinness world record for the most onscreen appearances as the iconic character, with 156.

Batman's success was a gift and a curse for West. Although he was offered highly coveted roles, such as James Bond in the 1971 film Diamonds Are Forever, which he turned down, he was typecast to the degree that during the early 1970s he made his living by doing personal appearances as Batman. In later years, West provided the voice for Batman and other related characters in animated series.

Even so, West was appreciative of how the role changed his career.  "Sometimes, when I think about my over the past 40 years, it is hard to remember all of it," West wrote on his official website. "Of course, Batman has been an important part of it... You have no idea how much I appreciate this. We worked hard to make the Caped Crusader innovative, fun and fresh."

West ultimately embraced his Batman legacy.  He later starred in nearly 50 films and a number of TV shows, including "30 Rock," "Alice," "Bonanza," "Bewitched," "Family Guy," "Laverne & Shirley," "The Love Boat," "Murphy Brown," "The Big Bang Theory," "The King of Queens," and "The Simpsons."  Many of his appearances played off of his celebrity as Batman.

West was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 5, 2012.

West explained to The Guardian in 2014 why he continued to work so hard, despite his age.  "It’s better than the alternative...dying," he said bluntly. "I see it around me and I resent that."

West is survived by his third wife, Marcelle Tagand Lear, and their six children.

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