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15 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Adam West

Adam West - Batman, Mayor West
Adam West, the beloved star of the popular and campy 1960s "Batman" TV show, died Friday night after "a short but brave battle with leukemia." At 88, West had a long and varied career but is best known as the square-jawed superhero. Here are some things you probably didn't know about the late, great Adam West.

1. Adam West's Mother Blamed Him for Her Failure

Adam West as a boy on the farm
Adam West was born on Sept. 19, 1928, in Seattle to Otto West Anderson, a farmer, and his wife Audrey V. Speer. His mother was a former piano player and singer and didn't like life on a farm. They divorced when West was 15 and she took them to live in Seattle. She later became an alcoholic and blamed him for derailing her career. Adam West later said she told him it was his birth that "stopped her becoming another Joan Crawford".

It was hard, but Adam West wasn't bitter about it. He told his father he got into the entertainment industry because of her. But he said his mother's disappointed ambition "meant I always felt guilt about what I achieved as an actor".

2. Adam West Doesn't Exist

Adam West isn't his real name. He was born William West Anderson but adopted the more dynamic name Adam West for his first film, The Young Philadelphians, in 1959. He chose the last name West because it was his mother's maiden name. Why did he choose Adam? He just liked the sound of it.

3. Adam West Saved Buffalo and Then Ate Them

One of his earliest roles was in the Three Stooges movie The Outlaws IS Coming! (1965) In the film, he, Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Joe “Curly Joe” DeRita stop an evil outlaw from killing off all the Buffalo.

After the movie wrapped Moe Howard 'Ok, everyone's invited to my place in Bel Air for a buffalo barbecue!' So a few buffalo didn't make it after all.

4. Adam West Was on a Show with a Chimp

When Adam West was living in Hawaii his old Washington school friend Carl "Kini Popo" Hebenstreit hosted a popular variety show named The Kini Popo Show. He appeared on it occasionally until Hebenstreit moved to New Zealand. They were looking for a new host and 21-year-old West was chosen. His co-host was a trained chimpanzee named Peaches.

When he met film star Natalie Wood, who was visiting the island, he was terrified. "I remember hoping that she didn't turn on the TV the next morning and see Peaches and me in hula skirts, strumming ukuleles and singing Mala Mala Mala to a puppet octopus," West later told The Independent.

But, despite the animal acts, it was a hit show on the island and also gave attention to many aspiring performers like Elvis, Liberace, and Ed Sullivan. It was Adam West's first brush with stardom.

5. Thank Nestle Quik for Adam West's Batman

Adam West was chosen to do the role, not because of his long and illustrious career, but because of a commercial. 

In 1966, he starred in a commercial for the chocolate drink Nestle Quik. He played a parody of James Bond named Captain Quik. He smoothly eludes a super villain’s death traps while enjoying a glass of Nestle Quik. It wasn't until about 18 months after he got the part that he found out why.

You can watch his brilliant performance below

6. Captain Kirk and Batman Almost Starred in a Show Together

In 1964 he co-starred with William Shatner in a TV series called Alexander the Great re-creating the historic Battle of Issus (333 B.C.). Shatner played Alexander and West played one of Alexander's officer's named Cleander.  It wasn’t picked up but was later released as a TV movie in 1968. West later said, "it turned out to be one of the worst scripts I have ever read and it was one of the worst things I’ve ever done." 

Shatner was kinder saying, "Every piece of entertainment is made with the idea that it will be terrific but then it hits the public and then that’s when you find out if it’s really good or not."

You can watch a sample of the show\TV movie below

7. Batman Was Supposed to More Serious

Adam West is known for giving Batman a certain oblivious charm that makes him endearing, but it wasn't supposed to be that way. While the producers wanted the show to be campy they wanted him to play it straight. 

"When I started in that first pilot with Frank Gorshin as Riddler, I got quite a bit of criticism," Adam West told USA Today, "They wanted the character more Lone Ranger, but my sensibility told me that if I played it with a kind of twinkle, looser and in a more bizarre, funny way, that it might have some longevity. And maybe I was right. It looks pretty good now."

8. Adam West Made Batman Clueless

Adam West loved that Batman was so brilliant but clueless at the same time. "What I loved about Batman was his total lack of awareness when it came to his interaction with the outside world," Adam West told The Independent, "He actually believed nobody could recognize him on the phone when he was being Bruce Wayne, even though he made no attempt to disguise his voice."

9. Adam West's Batman Costume Was a Nightmare

When designing the look of Batman they tried to adhere closely to the comic book design and had him wearing a skintight outfit to show off his physique. Unfortunately, Adam West's wool suit was itchy and hot. "It wasn’t that heavy, but it was just very itchy," he later told Chicago Sun Times, "And the cowl was really hot which made it annoying. If you think the humid Chicago weather is hot, the temperature inside there was like 140 degrees at all time." 

He sweat so much that a wardrobe guy  used a hair dryer to dry any perspiration between takes.

10. Adam West Made the Costume "Work"

"The costume was uncomfortable. The cowl was very tight and I couldn't see down and around, but you deal with those things. They paid me well," he says. "You make the costume work for you. Ben Affleck, if you're (reading), make the costume work for you!"

11. Adam West Met the Pope with a Hangover

At the height of Adam West's fame, he became something of a playboy in real life. He began partying a lot more, including when he was supposed to meet famous people. Like the time he met Pope John Paul Vi in 1966."I woke up the next morning with the worst hangover of my life," He later told The Independent, "I made it to the Vatican, and I was at the back of this line of people who each knelt down to kiss his ring. Then it was my turn. He put out his hand. I realized that, if I knelt down, I wouldn't be able to get up again, I was so hung over." Rather than throw-up on the Pope, West simply bowed his head slightly and shook the Pope's hand.

"He looked at me and said: 'Oh, Signor West. I have seen all of your shows. I love Pipistrello.'" It turned out the Pope had seen the Batman show the night before and became a huge fan.

12. Adam West Turned Down James Bond

Adam West was offered the role of James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) after the original star George Lazenby left the role. But West turned it down believing 007 should be played by a British actor. "Cinema owners voted me the next big movie star," he told Express. "I didn't become that."

13. No One Wanted to See Adam West's Batman in Bed

After Batman ended in season three, Adam West struggled with typecasting. He said one of the biggest problems is that despite his leading man looks, studios thought he was too recognizable to be taken seriously. He told FHM the producers casting would say, "No, what would happen if he went to bed with the leading lady? They’d forget the whole story — 'Look, it’s Batman in bed.'"

While initially frustrated by the lack of work he eventually embraced his fame. “I decided early on to embrace the character,” Mr. West told the Guardian newspaper in 2014. "I mean how many actors are lucky enough to play a character that becomes iconic?"

14. Adam West Played the Mayor Thanks to The Fairly OddParents

In Adam West's later years he became famous for another role. He played the hilariously clueless Quahog, Rhode Island, Mayor Adam West on MacFarlane’s animated Fox sitcom The Family Guy. "Seth MacFarlane had written a pilot for me with Butch Hartman, who does The Fairly OddParents," Adam West told A.V. Club, "Seth called about Family Guy, we talked about it, and it was that simple." McFarlane later said that he was "beyond fortunate to have had the privilege of working with him" and he was "irreplaceable".

Here's one of his funniest clips as "Adam We"

15. Adam West Never Wanted to Retire

While some actors retire from acting in their thirties, Adam West wanted to keep working as long as he could. "Eighty is the new middle age," he told Express, "Until I go to that great Bat-cave in the sky I'm delighted to keep working." When he died he was working on Batman vs. Two-Face with William Shatner. Even at the end, Adam West was bringing joy to fans of all generations as Batman.

How do you remember Adam West? Which fact didn't you know before?

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