Those who were lucky enough to be around back in the 1960s will undoubtedly look back on the original live-action Batman series with great fondness. The overtly camp and upbeat nature of the show, coupled with the performance of Adam West, proved to be a huge hit with audiences and led to the airing of 120 episodes between 1966 and 1968.
Sadly, West passed away last June aged 88 after a short battle with leukaemia, and the ensuing outpouring of emotion illustrated the profound effect that the American actor had throughout the television industry and beyond. As well as playing the caped crusader, West was more recently known for voicing himself as the hilarious Mayor or Quahog on the hit cartoon Family Guy. Creator Seth McFarlane led the tributes to West after his passing, stating that, “Family Guy has lost a mayor, and I have lost a friend”, while fellow Batman actors such as Val Kilmer, Ben Affleck, and Kevin Conroy were also keen to highlight that not only was West a fine actor, he was also an exemplary human being.
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The live-action Batman show featuring West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin was well known for its simple moral outlook. The series regularly championed the use of seat belts for example, as well as the importance of finishing your homework on time, drinking milk, and eating all your vegetables. Back in 2016, Batman was rated as the 82nd greatest American TV show of all time by television critics Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall, which illustrates that the program resonated with audiences of all ages, despite the fact it was primary aimed at a younger teenage audience.
The show has since had a big impact on popular culture and has been referenced in movies such as The Lego Batman Movie, where a brief clip is shown of Adam West’s Batman dancing before Batman and Robin take on villains, with onomatopoeic words popping out of thin air every time a bad guy is put to the floor. Video games have also paid homage to the original Batman series over the years, with multiplatformer Batman: Arkham Origins including a downloadable skin based on the 1960s series, while the Batman Begins slot game available via the Betfair casino online, makes use of various Batman references from the original show. The fact that current video games and movies are still using the original show as a point of reference is evidence of the long-lasting impact of the work of West and Burt in the original live-action series.
Thanks to kaleidoscope, previously unseen footage of West has resurfaced in which Batman teaches a handful of British schoolchildren how to cross the street safely by adhering to the UK’s Green Cross Code and reminding the viewers that “there’s no rest from danger because all around us is that deadly, daily danger: traffic!” The clip had never been previously released outside of the UK and is a real treat for fans of the 1966 Batman series, as it simultaneously encapsulates the cheesy nature of the character while at the same time showcasing the good spirit and all around good guy nature of West.
Adam West will forever be known as the original Batman in most fans eyes, but more importantly, he will be known as a superb actor and all-around good guy who undoubtedly helped to propel the caped crusader to the heights of popularity that we see today. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, Mr West, the Batman franchise and fans alike owe you the world (not to mention those kids who now look both ways when they cross the road thanks to your guidance!).