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On the passing of Adam West


It was quite outta the blue, getting a message from a friend yesterday. Adam West passed away…

Great. Thanks, 2017. And an image of some posts I’ve seen the last couple months about how "2017 is worse than 2016" or some such–presumably referring to "celebrity deaths" and the like.

This was outta the blue, yeah, but while surprising, at the same time, somehow not shocking. Unwelcome, yes. Undesired, certainly. But he was old, right?

I flipped over to Google, and keyed in simply "Adam West," not wanting to prompt any false stories of death or such. Perhaps it’s a hoax, right?

Nope.

Too many results, saying that he’d indeed passed.

He was 88. Short battle with leukemia.

I had just made plans to meet up with a friend for awhile, and had an urgent family matter to attend to, so didn’t sit or dwell.

While at a comic shop, saw that they had Batman on–the ’66 series’ movie–and wound up loitering a bit with that. Enjoying the campy stuff, musing over the typical stuff–a bat ladder? Bat shark spray? Bat copter? But it was what it was.

As a kid, I never understood my parents’ seeing humor in the show or ridiculousness in it.

As a kid, I took it seriously. It was Batman. I’m sure I knew it was dated, yeah, it was from decades earlier! (~24-25ish years at the time, barely half the series’ existence as of now in 2017) But it was still Batman.

heaven_batsignal_carry_on_chums

I got slightly choked up seeing this, when a friend sent it to me yesterday.

He’s gone on.

We’re still here. We remember the actor, and what he meant to us–if not personally, then at least as Batman, as a hero, as that figure we’d watch on the tv screen.

 

Mr. West meant a lot to more people than I can imagine.

I said to a friend that some part of me half-thought he’d live forever.

Knowing of Stan Lee having "health issues" the last several years, seeing all the celebrity deaths in 2016, I kept expecting to see his name amidst others.

Part of me (morbidly) still does. Certainly don’t wish it, just sadly expecting it, statistically.

But Adam West?

It hadn’t really even occurred to me that we’d ever lose him.

I think back to a few years ago, I went to a Wizard World in Columbus, Ohio, with a couple friends. We got to see the ’66 Batmobile (albeit from outside its display area).

66_batmobile

I got to see it "live," "in-person."

After a restroom break, I was asked if I’d seen Burt Ward in there–apparently he (and a couple bodyguards?) had entered shortly after me. No, I didn’t see/consciously know he was even in there while I was til after the fact…but that’s my claim to fame: I got to pee with Burt Ward.

And we also got to attend a panel with the two as the focus. Adam West and Burt Ward. They talked to us, the audience, for a bit, and then did a Q&A session. Plenty of people lined up for it, there were plenty of questions, and the two men easily filled the allotted time for the panel.

I think it was this panel that I first learned of the two and their "rivalry" on set, trying to crowd each other out of the shot or otherwise steal the focus of the camera.

Flash forward to last Fall, and the animated movie The Return of the Caped Crusaders–it was an interesting thing, hearing the familiar voices, but knowing they’re all significantly "older". I first learned of the film then-coming-up because relatively recent to that point, I’d become ‘friends’ with Ward on Facebook.

I remember back in college, when I watched the ’66 film for the first time in a number of years, and found it so extremely hokey and off-putting. PARTICULARLY that the Bat-Copter goes down, and there’s CONVENIENTLY some mattress sale going on in the parking lot immediately below the distressed machine.

I–like apparently many–had my phase of finding the series distasteful and such an artifact of the past.

Several years ago, though, I was ecstatic when I learned we’d be getting the series on DVD/home release. I got the first season pretty early on–but could not begin to justify the steep price on the entire series all at once. Somewhere along the way after that, I got the first part of season 2. And then I think it was "Black Friday 2015" or otherwise some online/promo-pricing I got the second half of season 2 and season 3…so I functionally have the complete series on DVD, just without all the bonus-premium-EXTRA-extras from the single-box full-series set.

And I haven’t watched much yet, but I’ve liked just having the option. At whatever point I’d choose, I can pop a disc in and watch whatever episodes strike my fancy. Or at least, I can look up where they’d be and try to find the appropriate disc to do so.


I never met West in person. Never got anything signed, never talked to him, etc. He wasn’t/hasn’t been on my "bucket list" of individuals I would like to meet someday and all that.

Perhaps I took stuff for granted.

Perhaps it was simply not considering losing the guy.

I’ve often "wondered" at people seeming personally, deeply affected by celebrity deaths. Yeah, I get the significance but few have "meant" as much to me.

Despite the time, the years since the show was first on and all that, there was something to Adam West as Batman, and knowing he was still "out there," still around, still making appearances, doing voicework, etc.

But he’s gone.

And as I see numerous posts from fellow bloggers, fellow fans, friends on Facebook, etc…it hits home. This is a big one. I’m saddened at having learned of his passing. I’m sad, perhaps overly selfishly so, that I’ll never have another opportunity to "meet" him. No more Adam West AND Burt Ward.

A hero–an actor who played a hero–is gone. Someone who touched millions of lives, mine included, has gone. Whatever metatextual stuff there may be…that’s a part of my life now gone, someone who was ‘always there’ even if I never noticed, or rarely did.

I watched a couple segments on YouTube about his passing, and was ok.

But then there was that transition noise into the theme music, and tears filled my eyes.


But y’know?

If I’m this affected, if we’re this affected, millions of us as fans past and present, old and new and all that–we’re hurt at this loss, we feel a loss in our lives?

I can’t imagine it for the family.

There are loads of cliché words to be said (that I won’t); but it’s TRUE: I can’t imagine what it must be for them, losing someone close to them, that actually IS a part of their lives, by blood, by family, and not just someone that played any of a number of characters that impacted us.

 

What can I truly say? I can’t even organize my thoughts. This whole post is stream-of-consciousness…I wasn’t even gonna do this post. But that’d be to somehow do the whole head-in-the-sand thing, or in trying NOT to do/be something, I’d DO/BE that.

I’ve been a Superman fan practically my whole life, back to some of my earliest conscious, consistent memories. But next to Superman, next to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there was Batman. Michael Keaton, yeah, and Adam West. Keaton was one version, a couple hours, a single movie, then two movies.

Adam West was hours upon hours of continuous stories of daring-do and such.

He won’t be forgotten.

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One Response

  1. The “Heaven turned on the bat signal” picture made me tear up!

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