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In Memoriam

The pop culture sensation Adam West has died at the age of 88.

Adam West was born on September 19, 1928, in Walla Walla, Washington. His father was a farmer and his mother was an opera singer and concert pianist who abandoned her own Hollywood dreams to care for her family. Following his mother's example, Adam West told his father as a youth that he intended to go to Hollywood after completing school. At the age of fifteen, he moved to Seattle with his mother after his parents divorced.

After high school, West attended Whitman College, graduating with a bachelor's degree in literature and a minor in psychology. He was drafted into the United States Army and served as an announcer on the American Forces Network. After his discharge, he moved to Hawaii to pursue a career in television.

While in Hawaii, West was picked for a role as the sidekick on a children's show called El Kini Popo Show, which featured a chimp. West later took over as star of the show. In 1959, West moved with his wife and two children to Hollywood.

He appeared in the film The Young Philadelphians and guest-starred in a number of television Westerns. He guest-starred on the syndicated crime drama Johnny Midnight, and soon snagged a supporting role as police sergeant Steve Nelson in the crime drama, The Detectives. He made a few guest appearances on Perry Mason in the early 1960s and appeared on The Real McCoys.

West starred in an episode of Outer Limits before starring as Major Dan McCready in the 1964 film Robinson Crusoe on Mars. In 1965, he was cast in the comedy Western The Outlaws Is Coming, the last feature film starring The Three Stooges.

Adam West was cast as Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego, Batman, in the television series Batman, in part after seeing West perform as the James Bond-like spy Captain Q in a Nestlé Quick commercial.

The popular, campy, TV show ran from 1966 to 1968, and a feature-length film version was released in 1966.

In 1970, West was offered the role of James Bond, but didn't accept, stating that he believed the role should always be played by a British actor.

Adam West's first role after Batman was in the film The Girl Who Knew Too Much.

For a time, West made a living doing personal appearances as Batman.

Afterward, West appeared in the theatrical films The Marriage of a Young Stockbrocker (1971), The Curse of the Moon Child (1972), The Specialist (1975), Hooper (as himself; 1978), The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood (1980), and One Dark Night (1983). West also appeared in such television films as The Eyes of Charles Sand (1972), Poor Devil (1973), Nevada Smith (1975), For the Love of It (1980) and I Take These Men (1983).

In 1986, he starred in the comedy police series titled The Last Precinct.

He also did a number of guest shots on a wide variety of television series, including: Maverick, Diagnosis: Murder, Love, American Style, Bonanza, The Big Valley, Night Gallery, Alias Smith and Jones, Mannix, Emergency!, Alice, Police Woman, Operation Petticoat, The American Girls, Vega$, Big Shamus Little Shamus, Laverne & Shirley, Bewitched, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, Zorro, The King of Queens, and George Lopez.

Adam West often reprised his role as Batman, first in the short-lived animated series The New Adventures of Batman, and in other shows such as The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour, Tarzan and the Super 7, Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show, and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. In 1979, West once again reprised the role of Batman for the live-action TV special Legends of the Superheroes. In 1985, DC Comics named West as one of the honorees in the company's 50th-anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great for his work on the Batman series.

West made an appearance in a 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series as Simon Trent, a washed-up actor who used to play a superhero in a TV series called The Gray Ghost. The producers nearly considered scrapping that episode, as they figured it mirrored West too much; however, West gladly accepted voicing such a character. West later had a recurring role as the voice of Mayor Grange in the WB animated series The Batman.

The actor vocally reprised his role as Batman for the CGI-animated short film Batman: New Times. He co-starred with Mark Hamill, who vocally portrayed The Joker. West also voiced Thomas Wayne in an episode of the cartoon series Batman: The Brave and the Bold. In the same series, he played Batman's prototype robot, named "Protobot".

During the 1990s, West's status as a pop culture icon led to appearances as himself in the film Drop Dead Gorgeous and other television shows, including NewsRadio, Murphy Brown, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, The Ben Stiller Show, and The Drew Carey Show.  He notably appeared as "Dr. Wayne" in the 1990 Zorro episode "The Wizard", with the audience being shown Zorro's "secret cave" headquarters. In 1991, he starred in the pilot episode of Lookwell and in 1994 in the film The New Age.  

In 1994, Adam West, with Jeff Rovin, wrote his autobiography, Back to the Batcave. He also appeared as a guest in the animated talk show Space Ghost Coast to Coast in an episode titled "Batmantis," where he displayed his book. That episode was essentially a parody to his Batman TV series, where Zorak dressed as "Batmantis," a praying mantis version of Batman.

In 2003, West and Burt Ward starred in the TV movie Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, alongside Frank Gorshin, Julie Newmar, and Lee Meriwether. In 2009, West played himself in the episode "Apollo, Apollo" of 30 Rock.

In 2010, a Golden Palm Star on the Walk of Stars was dedicated to Adam West. He received the 2,468th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 5, 2012.

He was interviewed in 2013 on the PBS series called Pioneers of Television in the season-three episode called "Superheroes." Also in 2013, he was the subject of the documentary Starring Adam West.

West is among the interview subjects in Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, a three-hour documentary that premiered on PBS in October 2013.

In February 2016, West guest-starred as himself on the 200th episode of The Big Bang Theory.

Having a distinctive voice, Adam West built a career doing voice-over work on a number of animated series, including appearances on The Simpsons, Futurama, Rugrats, The Critic, Histeria!, Kim Possible, Johnny Bravo, The Fairly Odd Parents, Family Guy, and Batman: The Animated Series.

Some of his latest voice-over performances were playing the role of Uncle Art in the Disney film Meet the Robinsons, and voicing the young Mermaid Man (along with Burt Ward, who voiced the young Barnacle Boy in the cartoon show SpongeBob SquarePants, in the episode "Back to the Past" of 2010.

Adam passed peacefully surrounded by his family and is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“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,” his family said in a statement.

Adam West was a past guest and much-loved friend of Dragon Con. He, along with his optimistic spirit and love for his fans, will truly be missed.

Adam West