DC Comics’ iconic Dark Knight is celebrating a milestone this year, it’s been seventy five years since he debuted in Detective Comics #27 way back in 1939. I had the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with none other than Adam West recently at New York Comic Con, was at the convention to mix and mingle with fans and talk up the long awaited and highly anticipated release of Batman: The Complete Television Series on DVD/Blu-ray collection which hits shelves this Tuesday.
For many fans as well as myself, West was our first Batman. The show ran from 1966-1969, so it was years into syndication when I first started watching in the early ’80s, and also right about the time I was also getting into other DC heroes through the animated SuperFriends. West is a pop culture icon who has always embraced his role he has in the character’s long history. It’s great to know decades later and at 86 years old, he has become a celebrity to a whole new generation as the voice of Mayor Adam West on Fox’x Family Guy.
It was a pleasure to hear him share his memories of his time playing Gotham City’s Caped Crusader in the ’60s. In this first of two posts from this event, West talks about working with the Hollywood icons who played the biggest Batman villains, which other actors who have played Batman he has met, his proudest moments in his Batman career, and of course, if he can still Batusi!
QUESTION: Was there any celebrity or political figure that you didn’t get a chance to have on there that you wish you did? Nixon, Robert Kennedy, anybody come to mind?
ADAM WEST: Probably Robert Mitchum. I liked his work. I mean, he made sense to me. Send a check. (Laughing).
QUESTION: Did you ever think when you were originally making this series that it would ever have this kind of longevity this far along, that people would still be so in love with the series and want even the whole box set right now?
ADAM WEST: From time to time I did because we tried to do it on several levels. We did it all for you guys in here were kids, and then as adults, you saw the absurdities, and it was a crazy loony thing. Well, Batman’s crazy. You know that, but I had a feeling occasionally, and when it broke so big, and then I read something, the longevity of the television series depends on the affection that people have for the leading characters. Thank you for that.
QUESTION: You mentioned that your favorite actors were John Wayne and Burgess Meredith. So you had the opportunity to work with Burgess. Do you have a favorite moment?
ADAM WEST: Wasn’t that a wonderful thing that I had a chance to work with more great actors, big stars, than just about anyone in the history of Hollywood? And some days I didn’t know with whom I’d be standing face-to-face, and I was so impressed because they were all really wonderful people. And when you work with Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, George Sanders as Mr. Freeze, it’s a wonderful experience. And that helped me know, to answer your question too, that this show really had a great chance to hang in there, and indeed we’ve become an evergreen, and I’m very grateful. And this is wonderful because I don’t even know myself as so pretty. (Laughing). I look like a young boy. (Laughing).
QUESTION: So, among all those people that you’ve worked with, who did you stay in touch with or remains friends with? Also have you over the years met a lot of the other A) actors that have played Batman, and B) all the the creators of Batman in the comics world?
ADAM WEST: I have met some of the artists who do the comic books, and by the way, they’re doing a comic book based on our series. You probably know that. And there’s also an Adam West comic book, and I have statues and all kinds of things. What’s happening?
QUESTION: So you have a pretty good memorabilia collection?
ADAM WEST: You want to buy a cane? (Laughing).
MODERATOR: There was a part of that question about having met some of the other actors who played Batman. I think you just did, didn’t you?
ADAM WEST: Yes as a matter of fact I’ve met George Clooney. I have a place just across Lake Como from him. (Laughing). But it’s a pleasure to me like Val Kilmer and a few others. And you know many of the guest stars on Batman, the villains, are gone. Is Riddler watching us now? Yes.
QUESTION: I think what made the show work is that you and Robin played it straight. If you were in on the jokes too, I don’t think it would’ve worked as much. Can you comment on that?
ADAM WEST: Sir, you are absolutely correct. You can never wink at the camera and think you’re funny. You can be tongue-in-cheek, and you can do funny things, and I guess, you can say something funny, but you can’t think funny. Oh, Batman had to be very serious, and with Catwoman … she gave me … Oh, no, I can’t say that. (Laughing). She gave me curious stirrings in my utility belt.
QUESTION: Speaking of Catwoman, how good did Eartha Kitt look in the costume?
ADAM WEST: Eartha was one of our three Catwomen. They all had this incredible adaptability to become slinky, sexy, kitten-like. It was almost too much for me. (Laughing). Three Catwomen? That’s 27 lives! (Laughing).
QUESTION: Do you still Batusi?
ADAM WEST: The Batusi? Yeah, yes. (Laughing). You know what? That takes a costume. You’ve got to have complete abandon. I do it alone in my hotel room.
QUESTION: Speaking of the evolution of the character, what has been your interest in the different interpretations of the character over the years?
ADAM WEST: Well, I have no interest at all except as an audience because all of them with all they have available do incredible jobs, and they’re good actor like that, but you know, they do it in their own ways with fresh approaches. I’m one of the audience.
QUESTION: Mr. West, looking back at the series as a whole and even just the experience of being Batman, to this day, what are you most proud of?
ADAM WEST: I think it’s that wherever I go, people are so nice to me, and they come up by the hundreds, and they say nice, funny things. As an actor, I just like to make people happy, make them laugh. That’s our job, to entertain, and if I’m entertaining you folks, then I’m happy.
QUESTION: For the one or two people who come from another country, someone who might not be familiar with Batman, what few words would you use to describe him to them so they can get an idea of why it’s so great?
ADAM WEST: Well, you know, in Italian, for example, in Italy, it’s called “Pipistrello,” which means “The Flying Mouse.” (Laughing). In Germany, it has another kind of strange name. So to describe to people who speak no English or no familiar language is very difficult because what do you say? You say, “Yes, I play the crazy guy who wore a cape and tights and ran around fighting crime 24/7.”
QUESTION: What is your take on the more recent developments involving your portrayal of Batman. As you mentioned, the comic by Jeff Parker, you’ve got a spot coming up in the new Lego Batman game.
ADAM WEST: Yes, I do. The Lego Batman game, Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. It gave me a chance to do Batman with Parker again but only in a very exaggerated way for the guys who like to play those games, and as a result, I think it made it kind of exciting and fun. And if you’d like to play Batman along with me, you’re certainly welcome.
QUESTION: Adam, do you remember your audition at all for like the Batman show?
ADAM WEST: You know what? I did not audition. What happened was, they’d seen a commercial that I had done before I went to Europe to do my spaghetti westerns. When I got back, my agent, “They want to see you at Fox and ABC,” because they saw something they liked. I didn’t know what it was. I went out. I read that pilot script by Lorenzo Semple Jr. I think it was brilliant and insanely funny, and I said, “I’ll do it,” and I knew that they wanted me. But they tested others just to give me a little bit of fright. You know how they do that.
QUESTION: With the Blu-Ray release, what’s your favorite scene you’re most looking forward to watching on the crystal clear release of the series? Do you have a favorite scene you want to watch on the Blu-Ray DVDs to like relive those moments?
ADAM WEST: Yes. In the movie, when he runs all over the pier. He can’t get rid of this bomb, right? And it ends up with him saying, “Some days you just can’t rid of a bomb.” (Laughing). It’s become a comedy classic. I like that scene.
MODERATOR: How about in the series?
ADAM WEST: In the series, I love that first episode.Later on with George Sanders as Mr. Freeze having dinner when we’re just in a warmer area of the table, and he’s in the frozen area and he says, “Baked Alaska, Batman?” You see? It was that kind of humor that really moved the show along.
MODERATOR: The effects in those episodes are just so much fun to watch.
ADAM WEST: Yes, wherever you saw Mr. Freeze, it was green, blue, cold, and we almost froze.
To Concluded in Part Two HERE!
Batman: The Complete Television Series hits DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, featuring all 120 episodes of the classic show remastered in HD as well as 3 hours of never-seen-before documentaries. The limited edition box set also comes with a Matchbox replica of the Batmobile, episode guide, a scrap book of Adam West’s personal photos, and a special set of 44 trading cards.