Actor Adam West died on June 9th at the age of 88, but for many fans, he will forever be immortalized as one of the greatest characters of all time: Batman.
Adam West may be the best-known Batman.
Decades before the gritty, brooding style that Christian Bale and Ben Affleck brought to the role, West donned the cowl as the Caped Crusader in the classic “Batman” television series that ran from 1966 to 1968. The show is iconic for its comedic, campy take on the superhero, remembered fondly (and frequently parodied) for its colorfully-costumed villains, visualized sound effects (“POW!” “ZIP!”) and endlessly ridiculous Robin catchphrases (“Holy [insert noun here], Batman!”)
Pow! Zip! Holy [insert noun here], Batman!
And at the heart of it all was West, with his hilariously dry, straight-faced delivery and family-friendly values. Far from machine-gun-toting Affleck, West helped old ladies cross the street and reminded children to use seatbelts. The show, and its film version, were huge hits, with kids loving the action and adults appreciating the comedy. He may now seem foreign to modern viewers but for an older generation, West is the true Batman.
It’s why crowds turned out in Los Angeles on Thursday night for a truly heroic memorial in honor of West.
A real-life Bat-signal was shined onto City Hall.
Some young fans showed up in costume.
On display were some of the iconic props from the series, including the Bat-phone and the Batmobile.
In the series, and pretty much all iterations of Batman, the Bat-signal is the spotlight used by police and other officials to summon Batman for help. Fittingly, the ceremony was overseen by both Mayor Eric Garcetti and police chief Charlie Beck.
“Tonight, we are going to light up your City Hall, for our own bright knight, the legendary Adam West,” spoke Garcetti.
“I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to turn on the Bat-signal,” joked police chief Beck, doing his duty as a real-life Commissioner Gordon.
And even West’s faithful TV sidekick was there to pay tribute: Burt Ward, who played Robin in the series, also gave a speech. Ward thanked the crowd for coming out, and he said that West wouldn’t have wanted them to feel sad, because he “spent his whole life as a performer, making people happy, making them laugh, and trying to make this world a better place.” He parted with one last classic Robin-ism: “WOWIE ZOWIE!”
But Ward’s speech underlines the importance that West had on people’s lives and how he was worthy of such a ceremonious tribute. He may not have been a crimefighter, but West was a hero in that he always made an effort through his character to entertain and brighten people’s lives.
So fire up the Bat-signal!