Adam West, the iconic actor best known for his role in the 1960s television series Batman, has died. The West family released a brief statement on Saturday morning, saying: “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.”
But what was West’s cause of death? How did he die?
According to The Hollywood Reporter, West died after a short battle with leukemia. A representative for West says that the actor was in Los Angeles, California at the time, where he was being accompanied by his wife Marcelle Tagand Lear. There have yet to be details regarding funeral arrangements. West was 88.
As one of seven actors to play Batman onscreen, West’s version of the character was one of the most iconic. In fact, his version of the crime fighter– campy, optimistic, and comedic– became such a cultural phenomenon in its day that it would go on to define Batman for an entire generation of viewers. Even today, moments from the series, like the “pow” and “wham” that appear when he punches villains, or the the infamous Batusi dance, remain a source of reverence and nostalgia for superhero fans.
West, born in Washington on September 19, 1928. He broke into show business in the 1950s, where his first notable role was in a series of commercials for Nestle’s Quik. As Captain Quik, a heroic character in the mold of James Bond, West displayed many of the attributes that would later make him such a celebrated personality. Check out one of the Nestle’s Quick commercials here.
West’s breakthrough would come in 1966, when he landed the title role in Batman. The series started off with a bang, releasing a theatrical film that same year, and would go on to run for two successful seasons on ABC. “The tone of our first show, by Lorenzo Semple Jr, was one of absurdity and tongue in cheek to the point that I found it irresistible,” West later told Variety. “I think they recognized that in me from what they’d seen me do before. I understood the material and brought something to it.”
The actor added: “You can’t play Batman in a serious, square-jawed, straight-ahead way without giving the audience the sense that there’s something behind that mask waiting to get out, that he’s a little crazed, he’s strange.”
Even after the series ended in 1968, West never strayed too far away from Batman. He voiced the character in a number of cartoons, including The New Adventures of Batman (1977), Tarzan and the Super 7 (1978-80), and The Legendary Super Powers Show (1979). His final performance of the character, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, was released in 2016, and saw him reunite with original cast members Burt Ward and Julie Newmar.
He is survived by his wife and six children. To learn more about them, click below.