Adam West biography
Adam West was born on September 19, 1928, in Seattle, Washington. He adopted the stage name Adam West before making his feature film debut with a small but memorable part in the 1959 drama The Young Philadelphians. Though West enjoyed moderate success in films, his big break came when he was chosen to play the crime-fighting superhero Batman in the 1966 television series.
Actor Adam West was born William West Anderson on September 19, 1928, in Seattle, Washington. Later in life, he would relocate to Los Angeles, California, and then return to his home state, to the city of Walla Walla. West was raised on a family owned farm by his parents, Otto and Audrey Anderson. His mother was a talented singer, who battled depression and alcoholism.
In 1943, West's parents divorced and he moved with his mother to Seattle, where he attended Lakeside High School. He continued his education at nearby Witman College, earning a degree in literature and psychology. While still a student, West worked as a radio disc jockey and helped launch a military television station.
In 1955, a college acquaintance offered West a role as a sidekick on a Hawaiian children's program, The Kini Popo Show. Accepting the offer, West moved to Hawaii, where he became a local celebrity among children and adults. While supplementing his income by working as an island tour guide, he caught the attention of a vacationing Hollywood agent, who invited him to screen test for Warner Bros. Studios. After delivering a successful audition, he was signed to a contract and moved to Hollywood. He adopted the stage name Adam West before making his feature film debut in a small but memorable part in the 1959 drama The Young Philadelphians (starring Paul Newman).
Throughout the 1960s, West enjoyed a steady stream of supporting parts in television and film. In 1961, he landed a recurring role as Sergeant Steve Nelson on the hit TV series The Detectives. His most notable film project was as the straight man to the Three Stooges in the Western spoof The Outlaws is Coming (1965). Later that year, West traveled to Italy, where he starred in the spaghetti Western The Relentless Four.
Although West enjoyed moderate success in films, his big break came when he was chosen to play the crime-fighting superhero Batman in the 1966 TV series. The show's producers, who sought to bring a touch of satire to the comic book character (and his stuffier alter ego Bruce Wayne), felt that West's flair for tongue-in-cheek comedy made him the perfect candidate for the role. Burt Ward was contracted to play Robin, completing the Dynamic Duo.
Batman premiered to high ratings and equally impressive critical acclaim. The popularity of the series swelled to a phenomenal level, making household names of West and Ward. Batman boasted an impressive lineup of guest stars, including Cesar Romero (as The Joker), Julie Newmar (as Catwoman), Vincent Price (as Egghead) and Roddy McDowall (as Bookworm).
In the summer of 1966, West starred in the full-length feature Batman. The theatrical version pitted the superhero against an all-star cast of villains, including Frank Gorshin's Riddler, Burgess Meredith's Penguin, and Lee Meriwether's Catwoman.
After two successful seasons, escalating production costs and flagging ratings caused ABC to cancel the Batman series. Typecasting brought West's career to a grinding halt. With an overwhelming sense of failure, he was reduced to making guest appearances as Batman at county fairs and rodeos.
Over the next few years, West took whatever work he was offered, ranging from low-budget embarrassments like The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington (1977) to quality projects like the action-laced comedy Hooper (1978). During the 1980s, he was featured in a slew of forgettable projects, including the raunchy motorcycle film Hellriders (1984) and the amateur horror movie Zombie Nightmares (1986).
In 1989, West enjoyed a resurgence of popularity with the highly anticipated release of Tim Burton's blockbuster Batman, which featured Michael Keaton in the title role. To coincide with the film, the original Batman series returned to airwaves around the world. During the 1990s, three more full-length Batman installments were released—Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997).
Most recently, West made appearances or has done voiceover work on many of America's most popular TV shows, including 30 Rock, The Simpsons, Family Guy and Politically Incorrect. In 1950, West married his college friend Billie Lou Yeager. The couple divorced in 1956. The following year, he wed a Hawaiian dancer, Nga Dawson, with whom he had two children. In 1962, his second marriage fell apart when Nga left him for another man. In 1970, he married Marcelle Lear. West and Lear had two children.