Remembering Adam West

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Adam West, Batman; 1928-2017

Where do I begin?

I suppose I begin in 1972, laying on the shag carpet of my parents' living room, tuned into KDNL Channel 30, when I first saw Batman. Oh, I'd seen him in the comic books -- I'd been reading proficiently from a pre-Kindergarten age because of comics. But this was real, not a drawing (although admittedly I was initially taken in by the Dick Sprang style of artwork in the animated opening). And since this was obviously a real person in a real costume, by extension, Batman was real. That's how the mind works at 5 years old.

I spent my days acting out the scenes I watched. I converted the top bunk into a batcave. I labeled everything in my room with scotch tape and notebook paper. When trouble arose (usually because my mother wondered what happened to all the notebook paper and scotch tape), I sprang to my bed, turned over the crudely drawn image of William Shakespeare to the back side which read "To the BatPoles" -- and then slid down the knobby wooden leg of the bunk bed. It wasn't a smooth trip, and it hurt, but it didn't matter -- because I was Batman. At home or at recess, the Caped Crusader was my role model, a real costumed superhero fighting crime and keeping us safe.

Because Adam West made him real.

It didn't matter to me that the series was in reruns by the time I discovered it, or that it was intended to be a hokey comedy that poked fun at the notion of superheroes. To my little boy mind, the adventures were high drama -- heck, they may as well have been newsreel footage!

Adam West has been a pillar of my youth. Of my life, I think I can say, without exaggeration. And such things are meant to be eternal -- always there, always a reassurance.

And then you get a news bulletin that tells you this eternal thing, this immortal personage, has died. And it shakes your reality. It forces you to look around, see the world continuing on, and you feel like you're the only person who can see that the universe has this disturbing Adam-West-shaped hole in it.

Adam West died June 9, 2017. In the end it wasn't the Joker or the Penguin or the Riddler who bested the Caped Crusader. It was leukemia. Much the way Adam West had gotten into my blood, something had gotten into his, and no bat-antidote existed to save him.

Hero. Role model. Inspiration.

Where do I begin?

I look above my monitor at the little figurine of Batman, cape spread, held aloft by a clear plastic support. I'm 50 years old today with a Batman toy as the central focus of my workstation. In some form or another, I've never been without him. And if I had to pin it all down to an origin, it truly only ever began in one place.

It began with Adam West.

And so I'm asking our readers to join me in donating to the Leukemia Research Foundation, marking your donation "In Memory Of Adam West" and electing to have the notification sent to Alfred@AdamWest.com.

When you've done so, please click to Tweet it out to the world using the hashtag #CapedCrusaderCancerChallenge.

And remember.