Hundreds of fans– some in costume– gathered in downtown Los Angeles Thursday Knight… er, night to pay tribute to the man that, for most, first brought DC Comics’ Caped Crusader to life. Adam West epitomized the dapper Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, the stoic ‘Batman’ on the hit series which aired during primetime from 1966-68, kicking off a nationwide craze, and even spawned a theatrical movie. Both the TV show and movie have rerun in syndication ever since, with new fans being drawn into the technicolor pop art world, generation after generation. Fans were devastated on Friday, June 9th, to learn that the iconic actor had passed away after a brief battle with leukemia at the age of 88.
In his honor, Los Angeles was temporarily converted into Gotham City. Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. Police Department Chief Charlie Beck hosted a ceremony to honor West, which included shining the famous Bat Signal on L.A.’s City Hall. Also in attendance were West’s widow Marcelle Tagand Lear and some his children (He had four biological children and two stepchildren), and his costars Burt Ward, who portrayed his wide-eyed sidekick Robin/Dick Grayson and Lee Meriwether, who played Catwoman in the 1967 movie.
Mayor Garcetti addressed the crowd, stating:
“We don’t gather on these steps very often at night. But when we do it’s for a solemn and holy purpose. Tonight we’re going to light up your City Hall for our own ‘Bright Knight,’ the legendary Adam West.”
“You don’t have to wear a cape, you don’t have to be a movie star, you don’t have to wear a badge or get elected mayor to make a difference and to be a hero. Adam West taught us that each one of us had a heart of gold. And that we could have a fun time doing it too.”
Ward took to the stage to essentially echo the Mayor’s sentiments:
“My friend Adam would want every single one of you to be incredibly happy and to be joyous because he spent his entire life as a performer making people happy, making people laugh and trying to make this world a better place.”
The Mayor led the crowd in a recreation of the famous “Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah” theme song.
On display were an original Batmobile from the series and a red phone reminiscent of the one Commissioner Gordon used in every episode to summon the Caped Crusaders when one of their nefarious foes surfaced.
One mourning fan, Louis White, 50 explained the appeal of West’s Batman in one simple word, “Accessibility.” He went on to add:
“It would have been a whole different thing had I been a child and it was the Christian Bale Batman right out the top. I would have been terrified. It was [West’s ‘Batman’] and my mom would buy me the comics — it was a wonderful memory.”
Other fans took to social media to share the event with those that weren’t present:
— George Pennacchio (@abc7george) June 16, 2017
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) June 16, 2017
— Ryan Parker (@TheRyanParker) June 16, 2017
Los Angeles honors the late Adam West with a lighting of the iconic bat-signal https://t.co/MH30l7yyK7
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 16, 2017
Yvonne Craig, who played Barbara Gordon/Batgirl on the show’s third season passed away in 2015, leaving Ward as the only surviving series regular. Meriwether and Julie Newmar, who both played Catwoman– Meriwether in the film, Newmar on the TV series– and Joan Collins who played the Siren are the only surviving villains.
Do you have any favorite memories of Adam West’s ‘Batman’? You can share them below in the comments. Also, for my Bat memories… well, just read my bio below.