LE Newsletter - August 30, 2007
Batman Won't Let Adam West Leave The Bat Cave
www.globeandmail.com - R.M. Vaughan
(August 24, 2007) When I was six
years old, I had a crush on
West. No, I was not
enduring an early puberty. Like many geeky six-year-olds, I was
a Batman fanatic. I had a miniature Batmobile and a Batman
Utility Belt, plus a blue plastic cape and cowl. If only I'd
left those toys in their original boxes, I'd have enough money
for a down payment on a condo. It's tempting to view West's
acting career as another shrink-wrapped relic, but he hasn't
stopped working since his blue briefs breakthrough and, at 78,
he's busier than ever. His oiled, mellow voice is in constant
cartoon demand, and he has a regular role on Family Guy,
wherein he plays the pervy Mayor Adam West. But Batman won't let
Adam West leave the bat cave. His appearance at this weekend's
Fan Expo Canada, a comics and sci-fi “genre event” (i.e. nerd
fest) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is the talk of the
pimply blogosphere. Perhaps West's campy, go-go sixties
portrayal of Batman has endured because it was performed with a
broad, knowing wink – as a celebration, not deconstruction, of
the delicious silliness of the superhero formula. Or maybe it's
because his legs looked so very good in tights.
You've thrived post-Batman, but many actors who don
capes find it hard to get parts after the costume is put away.
I think it's because I'm just plain stubborn – aside from being
hugely talented, very bright, and funny.
After hundreds of gigs, there must be some that you treasure
… and a few that you regret.
Well, let me address the latter – there's certainly a handful of
really miserable movies. But in each case I went in prepared and
tried to bring something fresh and interesting. There are
certainly some things that I'm proud of as well – a couple of
movies, like The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker and
The New Age, and a great comedy pilot I did called
Lookwell, co-written by Conan O'Brien.
What happened to that?
It was the favourite at NBC the year it was done, and then the
top executives were replaced. But it still plays in theatres
when they have “best comedy pilots” nights. It didn't fade away.
You're the only person on the planet to appear on both The
Simpsons and its archrival, Family Guy.
I know! Isn't that great! I am so lucky. They must appreciate my
sense of the absurd.
When you started working, stars were not as thoroughly
scrutinized as they are today. Does the boom in “celebrity news”
The only thing I can think of is that because we have such a
proliferation of media, young celebrities have to do things that
are outrageous. There was a time when I was reported to be, um,
I guess, a very … hmm … a man with a lot of stamina. A womanizer
and a boozer. But I've got a beautiful wife and wonderful kids,
and it's all I can do to keep up with them!
Well, now I have to ask: Please tell me Tallulah Bankhead
made a pass at you when she appeared on Batman.
She was very ill at the time. I made her sick! No, she was ill,
and I think it was her last show. She sat by herself in the
semi-darkness, so I made a point to go over and talk to her and
ask her questions. She was terrific to work with, and she had a
hell of a background!
Given the amount of TV you've done, I bet you're cashing some
hefty residual cheques.
Last week, I got six cents from Bolivia! But I did get a nicer
cheque today from Family Guy.
Why do you do these conventions? Don't some of the obsessive
fans scare you?
No, not so much, because I have five bodyguards at all times,
with automatic weapons.
You can tell me: After working for 60 years, do you ever just
phone it in?
Never. I know some actors who send a stand-in when they're not
on camera – so, you're not playing to a character they've
created, but to some jerk who's just reading lines. That's a
lesson to me. I will never leave when someone else is working. I
stay on camera.
It's no secret that you've been less than thrilled with the
sombre turn of recent Batman films.
(Sighs). I know … they don't want to touch what we did. They
have a lot of talent and a lot of money to play around with, but
somehow they still miss the mark. What's Batman without
You're almost 80 and you're still doing red-carpet parades,
still on the guest list.
I don't know whether I'm on list A or Z, but I'm there! Maybe I
bring a little fun to people. Or maybe they just like to laugh
and jeer at me.
Born Sept. 19, 1928, in Walla Walla, Washington, as William
First roles Co-starred with a chimpanzee in The Kini Popo
Show, a 1950s children's TV series, then made the sitcom
rounds with visiting roles on shows such as The Real McCoys,
Gunsmoke and Perry Mason.
Breakout role The Batman TV series began airing in
Latest moves Has a recurring role on Family Guy as Mayor
Relationship status Married to Marcelle Lear, his third wife,
with whom he shares four children, two from her previous
marriage. West also has two kids from his second marriage to
Ngatokoruaimatauaia Frisbie Dawson. For the full story.
Read Back to the Batcave, West's autobiography.