Adam West (September 19, 1928 – June 9, 2017), born as William West Anderson, was an American actor whose career spanned seven decades. He is best known for portraying Batman in the campy 1960s TV series Batman and its theatrical feature film.
From 2000, West made regular appearances on the animated series Family Guy, in which he played ‘Adam West’, the mad mayor of Quahog, Rhode Island. His role gave him a new wave of popularity and lead writer Seth MacFarlane claims to have gone out of his way to avoid typecasting West by deliberately not making any references to the caped crusader.
Beyond his most famous roles, Adam West’s extensive career included roles in a number of sci-fi/horror movies, beginning with an uncredited bit part in the Boris Karloff starrer Voodoo Island (1957) as ‘Weather Station #4 Radio Operator’.
West starred as an astronaut facing-off against a Sand-Beast in ‘The Invisible Enemy’, a 1964 episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. The same year, he was also in Bewitched (as Darrin’s friend Kermit).
Proving once again that light comedy was his forte, in Rod Serling’s Night Gallery TV series, West played Mr. Hyde in the tongue-in-cheek skit ‘With Apologies to Mr. Hyde’.
More TV work followed. The Eyes of Charles Sand is a 1972 TV movie about a young man inherits the ability to see visions beyond the grave. He helps a girl investigate her brother’s alleged murder. West played a doctor.
Poor Devil is a bizarre 1973 TV movie pilot for a comedy series that unsurprisingly remained unsold. Sammy Davis Jr. starred as “Sammy”, a demon from Hell who desires a promotion from working in the furnace room. Lucifer, played by horror veteran Christopher Lee, tells Sammy that he must first convince a San Francisco accountant named Burnett J. Emerson (Jack Klugman) to sell his soul. Adam West was the other star name in the cast.
One Dark Night is a lacklustre PG-rated 1981 supernatural horror film directed by Tom McLaughlin that sat on the shelf for a couple of years.
Zombie Nightmare (1986) is a hilariously awful Canadian heavy metal horror outing for body builder Jon-Mikl Thor. Sporting a moustache, West played an understandably weary police captain. The same year was also a police captain in The Last Precinct, a TV comedy series that attempted to nuance the inexplicably successful inane Police Academy movies. Horror-themed episode ‘Never Cross a Vampire’ featured Richard Lynch as an undead wannabe.
In the Tales from the Crypt 1993 episode ‘As Ye Sow’, West played Chapman, the head of a private investigation agency, hired by Hector Elizondo’s suspicious character to spy on his wife (see below).
He was The Galloping Gazelle in the two-part ‘Attack of the Mutant’, 1996 animated episodes of the R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps TV series.
In 1997, West played the Big Kahuna, a legendary vampire killer, in comedy horror outing American Vampire (aka An American Vampire Story).
In Seance aka Killer in the Dark (2001), West has a brief role at the end as a guardian angel/homeless man. The film concerns a preternatural spirit that haunted Jon (Corey Feldman) as a child and who is summoned by an ill-conceived séance to liven up a party only to unleash a litany of horrors and murders on the participants and anyone in his way.
2004 brought Tales from Beyond, a low-budget anthology horror movie in which West was a bookstore owner introducing the tales. MTV comedy-horror spoof Monster Island, which starred Carmen Electra (previously in the aforementioned American Vampire) provided West a more high-profile role as a mad doctor named Harryhausen.
Meanwhile, voice-overs for Scooby-Doo characters included Aloha, Scooby-Doo! and Scooby-Doo! and the Beach Beastie.
As with many actors whose careers are stymied by being identified with a major key character, Adam West struggled to rid himself of his Bruce Wayne/Batman identifier, yet he managed to land a vast amount of roles and was always willing to work in even the lowest of low budget movies as he simply loved acting. And he was never afraid to be self-deprecating, surely his greatest attribute (just see his The Big Bang Theory appearance). We salute the campest caped crusader and the mad Mayor of Quahog.
Adrian J Smith, moviesandmania