Adam West is the television icon of icons. After almost a decade of being a "that face is familiar" working, journeyman actor, in 1965, at the age of 37, he was cast as the title character in a new campy comic series on ABC called Batman.
Batman premiered as a mid-season replacement in January of 1966 and Adam almost instantly went from semi-anonymity to becoming the hottest actor in show business.
But the colossal success of Batman was a double-edged sword. Like a streaking comet, the show's huge success quickly fizzled out. After a brief two-and-a-half year run and 120 episodes, Batman was cancelled. Adam West quickly went from being red-hot to being a has-been, hopelessly typecast as the Caped Crusader. (He did nothing but personal appearances for two years.)
But time has a funny way of sometimes healing things, and now, over four decades after the demise of Batman, Adam West is a very successful actor and voice-over artist who earns small fortunes at signing shows in the U.S. and overseas. Adam's recurring guest role as “Mayor West" on the ultra-popular animated series Family Guy has gained him a whole new generation of avid fans.
Okay, let's take a look at a few things you may not have known about Adam West.
* Born William West Anderson, he changed his name to Adam early in his career (1959) because he liked the way it sounded with “West,” his mother's maiden name. Close friends still call him Bill.
* An avid comic book collector since he was ten, he was a huge fan of Batman comics as a young boy and always loved the character.
* Before he became a successful actor, he worked as an island tour guide in Hawaii.
* Early in his acting career, Adam joined his childhood & college buddy, Carl Hebenstreit, who was starring in the kiddie program The Kini Popo Show in Hawaii. Adam would eventually replace Carl, but not the show's other star, a chimp named Peaches.
* Adam's movie debut was in Voodoo Island (1957) where he played weather station operator #4 and was uncredited.
* He overcame alcoholism in the 1970's. His mother was also an alcoholic.
* He suffered from depression, like his mother. It ran in his family.
* Adam has 14 hobbies: fishing, sailing, hiking, skiing, listening to classic rock music, spending time with family, swimming, surfing, dancing, golfing, traveling, riding motorcycles, reading and swimming.
* He co-starred with the Three Stooges in their last-ever feature film The Outlaws is Coming (1965) right before landing his role in Batman.
* Adam had a creative dentist add a little black Batman logo to one of his molars.
* Describing his Batman wardrobe: “The tights were itchy, and it was really, really hot. Believe me, it was 180 degrees under that cowl.”
*After the demise of Batman, he was discussed to play James Bond in Diamonds are Forever (1971) with producer Albert Broccoli. At the time there were plans to re-boot the franchise with an American Bond. But Adam felt Bond should be played by a British actor and ruled himself out of the running.
* He was passed over for a role (as Thomas Wayne) in Tim Burton's Batman movie in 1989. He "cried for over an hour.”
* One of his most prized possessions is a drawing of Batman by the comic's creator Bob Kane with the inscription “To my buddy Adam, who breathed life into my pen and creation.”