West left his mark on Hollywood in a big way. It is rare for an actor to change the landscape of pop culture and define a character for so long. Not many actors have the opportunity to portray a character more times than can be counted and to link themselves so closely with a character, but West certainly did both.
Adam’s portrayal of the character of Batman and Batman’s real identity Bruce Wayne launched West as a fixture in popular culture. It might sound strange that the son of an opera singer and concert pianist and farmer could end up claiming the mantle of the Wayne legacy, yet he was the perfect actor for the role. Batman producer William Dozier initially saw West play the James Bond-style character of Captain Q in a television commercial. Strangely enough, Bond film producer Albert Broccoli offered West the role of James Bond in the film Diamonds Are Forever. West turned the role down because he believed a British actor should always play the iconic Bond character.
West and Burt Ward, who portrayed Batman's sidekick, Dick Grayson/Robin, participated in a screen test to earn their roles, facing such competition as Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell, who also auditioned for the roles of Batman and Robin. For the caped crusaders West and Ward, the roles would define their professional careers for the rest of their lives. West stuck with the series and a related movie, Batman. While the series always focused on West and Ward, it eventually extended to include the character of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, played by Yvonne Craig, who passed away in 2015.
After Batman, West continued to be associated with the role. He would go on to portray the character on a number of animated shows, such as The New Adventures of Batman, Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show, and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. He was even considered to play Batman's father, Thomas Wayne, in the Tim Burton-directed 1989 film Batman. West also appeared in projects unrelated to Batman, such as the films One Dark Night and The Specialist.
Ward remembered his costar well:
“We shared some of the most fun times of our lives together; our families have deep love and respect for each other,” Ward said. “This is a terribly unexpected loss of my lifelong friend. I will forever miss him.” Julie Newmar, who portrayed Selina Kyle/Catwoman on the series alongside West and Ward, also won't soon forget West:
“Stellar, exemplar, a king to the end,” Newmar told the Los Angeles Times. “He was bright, witty, and fun to work with. 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's legacy will continue to live on in the hearts of his friends, family, and fans. He was loved by all and touched many hearts. With West gone, the legacy of the Wayne family will fall to Ward and Newmar as they continue to carry the banner of the beloved 1960s series Batman.