Adam West was a television icon—and not just because he was TV’s first Caped Crusader as the star of the original Batman series in the late 1960s. West, who died after a brief battle with leukemia at age 88, left behind an acting resume that lists nearly 200 credits.
According to IMDB, Adam West’s first TV role came in 1954 on The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse. The acting jobs came in steady succession and the future icon never stopped working. Adam’s last credit, his ongoing voice role on Family Guy, came shortly before his death in 2017.
In the late 1950s and early ’60s, Adam West kicked off his TV career with one-off roles on shows like Lawman, Colt. 45, Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, Bonanza and The Rifleman. But West got his big TV break in 1961, with an ongoing role on The Detectives, playing Det. Sgt. Steve Nelson for 30 episodes on the NBC crime drama.
In 1964, Adam West made a few surprising stint on sitcoms. In addition to two episodes of Petticoat Junction, where he played Dr. Clayton Harris, West popped up on the supernatural ABC comedy Bewitched, playing a handsome advertising agency artist named Kermit in the episode “Love is Blind.”
Roles on Night Gallery and The Big Valley followed, with West playing Major John Elliott alongside Barbara Stanwyck in 1968.
In the 1970s, West landed guest roles on everything from Mannix to Alice, did the obligatory Love Boat and Fantasy Island guest spots, and reprised his Batman role, this time as a voice actor in the 1977 animated series The New Adventures of Batman.
In the 1980s, Adam West turned up on popular shows of the day like Laverne & Shirley and Hart to Hart before amping up his voice role work on SuperFriends and The Super Power Team: Galactic Guardians.
In 1986, West starred in the short-lived police academy comedy, The Last Precinct. Next up, it was series of guest spots on everything from Murder She Wrote to Mad About You to Murphy Brown as well as multiple voice roles. Indeed, if any actor’s resume is a cross section of TV and movie history, it’s Adam West’s.
In 2001, West played Dr. Noah Goddard/Breathtaker in the Sci-Fi series, Black Scorpion. While he continued to do guest stints on everything from The Drew Carey Show to The Simpsons, one of Adam West’s most notable roles was in the 2005 King of Queens episode, “Shear Torture.” West played himself in a hilarious episode that had him pitted against real life Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno (a regular on the show) for the fandom of pop culture geek Spence Olchin (Patton Oswalt).
More recently, Adam West appeared on 30 Rock and in the 2016 Big Bang Theory episode, “The Celebration Experimentation,” which marked the 200th episode of the hit CBS comedy.
West also voiced the role of Catman on the Nickelodeon series Fairly OddParents.
And who can forget the 111 Family Guy episodes Adam voiced, as Mayor Adam West, from 2000 to 2017. Family Guy would be the beloved actor’s final TV credit.
Of course, Adam West will forever be known as the first—and best—Batman. In a 1966 interview with the Los Angeles Times, West admitted that playing Batman was “an actor’s challenge.”
“You have to reach a multi-level audience,” Adam explained of the role.
“The kids take it straight, but for adults, we have to project it further … When Batman was a comic it wasn’t camp, but the show is. …When I got the part, I tried to remember Batman as I knew him when I was a kid — with emotional recall…Now Bruce [Wayne, Batman’s alter ego], on the other hand, has to come across as the kindest, noblest, most charitable guy — again, ‘straight-line’ — not Cary Grant charming — know what I mean?”
The Batman role, which he played for 120 episodes, would make Adam West a household name. But more than 50 years later, we know Adam West was so much more.
[Featured Image by Mike Coppola/Getty Images]