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Adam West, Forever Batman
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Sunday, June 11, 2017
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Adam West, who played Batman in the campy 1960s TV series by the same name, died Friday night at age 88.

He’d had “a short but brave battle with leukemia,” according to his family.

West, a longtime resident of the Sun Valley area, was the first to bring the caped crusader to the screen.

He chafed at being typecast, but he delighted that his character became iconic, often opening the doors for roles in other TV shows and films, including “The Simpsons.”

West was born William West Anderson in Walla Walla, Wash. He graduated from Whitman College, a private liberal arts school in his hometown.

He went to Hollywood after a stint in the Army and began appearing in such TV series as “Bewitched,” “Bonanza” and “Perry Mason.”

“Batman” debuted in 1966. The 1960s TV series with its upbeat music starred Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin—two crime-fighting heroes who defended Gotham City from a plethora of fantastical villains, such as Catwoman and Egghead.

The formulaic piece boasted a simplistic morality, which even championed eating vegetables and drinking milk. But, still, it racked up 120 episodes over three seasons and was ranked by TV critic Alan Sepinwall as the 82nd greatest American TV show of all time.

Since, more serious Batman characters have been played by Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Ben Affleck and Christian Bale.

West had homes in Los Angeles and Palm Spring but he and his French-born wife Marcelle spent most of their time at their ranch near Sun Valley, where Marcelle owned an upscale store.

The couple bought a home in Idaho in 1985 after years of coming here to ski and indulge in summer vacations.

For more years than anyone can remember, Names and Numbers phone book has had fun with the celebrity, including a listing for Batman that said “See West, Adam,” which in turn said “See Wayne Bruce (Millionaire.)”

West was a visible part of the community. Several years ago he took part in a fashion show to benefit the Sun Valley Ski and Heritage Museum.

He helped raise money for the Idaho AIDS Foundation and donated his quarter-million dollar winnings from the game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" to the Idaho Children's Trust Foundation. He took part in a 6-year-old girl's Make-a-Wish Idaho ploy to be a super hero for a day. He took part in a low-budget $50,000 film made by a Boise State University professor in Kuna.

And in December 2016 he showed off his art work at Gilman Contemporary.

The pop-up exhibition, “Criminals on Canvas and Other Works By Adam West, Creator of the Classic Batman,” included prints of villains and characters from the original “Batman” TV show. His one-of-a-kind paintings were also featured in other galleries across the country, including David W. Streets Gallery in Beverly Hills.

“Batman was a colorful and wild ride,” West said of his exhibition. “My paintings capture the humor, zaniness and depth of the ‘Batman’ villains, as well as the Freudian motivations of Batman as an all-too-human vulnerable and funny vigilante superhero.”

Condolences from Wood River Valley residents began popping up on West’s Facebook page on Saturday.

“He was my hero from childhood and a friend in our community,” said Sara Berquist.

“We’ve all got a great Batman story,” added Steven Garman. “Everyone that lived in the Wood River Valley that talked to him came away with a smile and a laugh.”

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