The original Caped Crusader has passed away. Adam West, an actor beloved by Batman fans for generations, died on Friday night after a short battle with leukemia. He was 88 years old.
In a statement this morning, West's family said, "Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero."
West rocketed to fame in 1966 when he donned the cape and cowl of Batman on ABC. The show ran for three seasons, becoming a cultural touchstone to fans and a thorn in the side of West's career. The actor struggled to book roles in the following years due to his association with the character.
Despite those struggles, West continued to work throughout his long career in Hollywood, making appearances in TV and movies right up until this year, even returning several times to the character that made him a household name. He published two books, including 1994's Back to the Batcave, which offered a behind-the-scenes look at the 1960s series.
West's co-stars, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar, who played Robin and Catwoman, respectively, have reached out to express their sadness at the actor's death. Says Ward, "I am devastated at the loss of one my very dearest friends. Adam and I had a special friendship for more than 50 years. We shared some of the most fun times of our lives together. Our families have deep love and respect for each other. This is a terribly unexpected loss of my lifelong friend. I will forever miss him. There are several fine actors who have portrayed Batman in films. In my eyes, there was only one real Batman that is and always will be Adam West. He was truly the Bright Knight."
"He was bright, witty and fun to work with," added Newmar. "I will miss him in the physical world and savor him always in the world of imagination and creativity. He meant so much to people. A friend said: ‘The father that we wanted.’ That is a great gift, no matter how you live it."
West is survived by his wife, Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.