Filmmaker Kevin Smith, producer James Tucker, actors Ralph Garman and Lee Meriwether and about a thousand fans paid tribute to the late Adam West at the pop-culture convention Thursday night.
West played Batman in the 1960s TV series and later voiced the character of Mayor West on “Family Guy.” He died last month at age 88.
Smith said he was about 4 years old when he first saw West in “Batman” on a black-and-white TV.
“He defined my youth,” Smith said. “He gave me my morality. Everything I learned about being good, I learned from watching Adam West play the Bright Knight.”
Smith said that when he shared those thoughts with West during his appearance on the “Fatman on Batman” podcast, West said: “That doesn’t speak well of your parents.”
Meriwether said that when she played Catwoman and Kitka opposite West in “Batman: The Movie” movie, she could hardly maintain her character’s accent because she was so dazzled by West.
“I had a little crush, just a little one,” the 82-year-old actress said, blushing at the memory. One of the first scenes they filmed together was a ballroom scene where the two danced.
“All I could think of was, ‘I’m dancing with Adam West,’” she said. “I probably blew one take and then I snapped out of it.”
Tucker said the whole reason he became a producer is so that one day he might be able to hire, and therefore meet, West. The first time Tucker hired him, though, West literally phoned it in. It was a voice-acting role, and the actor was able to do it by phone.
“I didn’t get to meet him, so I had to cast him again,” Tucker said.
“Whatever I’m doing in this industry is because of that show,” he said of seeing West on “Batman.”
“That show changed my life. It made me want to do this. It made me want to be an artist,” Tucker continued. “Meeting him and having him be exactly who you want him to be as a person… and be genuinely friendly and genuinely there for you is amazing. I can’t say enough about him.”
Garman, who does a perfect impression of West’s voice, said he idolized the actor growing up. He started collecting Batman memorabilia as a kid and has been building on the collection ever since (“an enormous collection that my wife forces me to keep in one room”). He eventually worked with and befriended West and his family.
“I have a little piece of magic in my life because I got to become friends with my hero,” Garman said. “I mean, when does that happen in most people’s lives? I’m truly blessed.”
The presentation included highlight reels of West’s work on “Batman” and “Family Guy,” along with outtakes from the 2013 documentary “Starring Adam West,” which was directed by his son-in-law.
In those clips, West talks about meeting with fans and what he thinks his legacy might be.
“You know, I hear the word ‘legacy’ quite often. And other words like ‘icon.’ You can just call me icon, if you will,” West says. “I don’t know what the legacy would be, except the legacy of making people happy, and adding some kind of instructional influence in young lives. Maybe that’s kind of a legacy.”
Registered: Fri May 16 2003
Loc: the right
Today Marks Adam West Day In His Hometown Of Walla Walla, Washington: Events for the celebration include a presentation by Ruben Procopio, the Batman comic book artist and sculptor who created West’s favorite bust of his character; the Batmobile and Batman on location; a screening of the 2013 documentary Starring Adam West, which was directed by the actor’s son-in-law, James Tooley; and finally at night, the Bat Signal being shown upon the Marcus Whitman Hotel.
I liked how this documentary not only covered Adam West's entry into the series, but also covered in the context of the Golden Age superheroes, the decline in pupularity in the pre-code era, Wertham's homo-interpretation of Batman and Robin in Seduction Of The Innocent, and Batman's declining comics sales leading up to the network's purchase and conceptualizing of the series. And that it bombed in the pre-screening! But that the network had invested so much into the series already that they rolled the dice and broadcast it anyway, to unexpected success.
And that the lightness of the Adam West series resulted in a reactionary return to the character's darker creature-of-the-night roots after the TV series ended.
There are so many things that have become cultural icons that we thought were inevitable successes, that were actually repeated failures, until the right actor by some whim fell into place, or a book or comic or song or series that hadn't sold for years finally emerged at the right time. Batman obviously emerged at the right time with the right actors.
The part about Superman being their first choice, but being unavailaable for licensing as aa series at the time because of the Superman broadway play was a detail I'd never heard of before either.