Adam West Was My First Batman
Like many, I was saddened yesterday when I read of the passing of Adam West. When I was a young child, I have to confess I never saw the 1960s Batman series as campy. I treated those zany adventures with absolute seriousness. Of course I laughed, but much as one might laugh in a modern superhero movie with its funny moments.
A large part of that had to be how much Adam West put into his role of Batman. The show itself was awesomely campy but Batman always was serious. A noble crimefighter who would make certain he contributed to the healthy development of his young ward. Who would always do the right thing.
It was popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s to rail against the old Batman show. How Batman wasn't really like that, but rather he was a grim avenger of the night. I couldn't really get into that - I love The Dark Knight Returns and similar takes on Batman but I had too fond memories of the classic 1960s show to ever speak against it. When Adam West spoke at the UConn Student Union in fall of 1989, my freshman year, I was sure to be there. It was shortly after the Michael Keaton Batman movie had come out. He was great fun to listen to - he spoke how he'd have loved a scene where the classic Batmobile rolled out with the classic Batman driving. He did an impersonation of the wall-climbing from the old show, asking us to turn our heads to assist with the special effects.
It's hard to know how the man really felt about being typecast as Batman for the rest of his life - I hope and suspect he knew how much joy he brought to people.