Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eleven things I learned from reading Adam West's memoirs

This is what I learned from reading Adam West's book "Back to the Batcave" from 1994:


1. Adam West still defends his work in the original show to this very day, despite the fact that many adults look back at it and see it as melodramatic drivel. He says that Batman was slightly over-the-top but that it was less ridiculous than the comics of the time. He also did not like the use of the word "campy" and did not know what camp meant when reporters suggested it to him. He preferred the word "pop art" and likened the "pow"s and "oomphs" that would appear on screen to Andy Warholesque touches. He maintains that the light-hearted and fun version of the times was exactly what the public needed because it was a very stressful era and tumultuous time. He said that a serious version of a superhero comic would have failed, and he cites the fact that the Green Hornet only lasted one season as evidence of that. Most importantly, Batman would have been cancelled if it weren't for the popularity of the TV show. The sales on the comic were rapidly declining and DC Comics told Bob Kane to hang up his pen at the time.

2. At the same time, West was also slightly delusional. When it was time to reinvent Batman for the movies, West thought that Tim Burton made a mistake by not casting him, despite the fact that he was well into middle-age and the 1966 TV Batman was way behind the times.

3. Adam West also claims to be a serious actor who actually did research and devoted energy into making his part believable. This is particularly surprising because it looks like West was either a guy who didn't try very hard or a very poor actor whose overdelivery of the dialogue made the show hard to take seriously. But Adam West's overacting was all very calculated and came after months (not hours, I repeat, but months) of thinking about how he'd approach this character and came up with a list of 6 constants that Batman should have.

4. Despite rumors that Adam West was seducing costars left and right, West claims that he had mostly professional relationships with the costars because he didn't want to endanger the show. He said some of them like Julie Newmar were incredibly tempting and it was INCREDIBLY difficult for him to maintain professionalism on the set by Newmar, in particular. The book is rather vague about whether Newmar and West actually did do anything illicit. He does claim to have had a very active sex life having been approached with groupies everywhere who made it all incredibly easy for him. He dated Lana Wood, however, and it also sounds like he lightly dated Natalie Wood. He unsuccessfully pursued Jill St John (guest star from the very first episode). St. John and him are still good friends. Throughout the show, he still pined for his ex-wife with whom he shared kids.

5. Adam West claims life post-Batman was highly depressing because he could not get any work. It took him years to escape the clout of Batman. He was offered the part of James Bond and turned it down because he felt the role should have gone to an Englishman. This takes a great deal of integrity considering how desperate one might be for work.

6. Adam West enjoyed meeting a lot of great actors on set. He was good friends with the Riddler's Frank Gorshin. They went to an orgy once where they started acting in character just for kicks and got thrown out (what's the procedure for being throwing someone out of an orgy? Do you not get your parking validated or something?). He also really admired the worklike ethic of Meredith Burgess and Cesar Romero. He especially enjoyed meeting George Saunders (Mr. Freeze #1), Vincent Price (Egghead), Cliff Robertson (Shame) and Maurice Evans (The Puzzler, poor man's Riddler).

7. He did not enjoy Otto Preminger who played Mr. Freeze and his costars universally agreed. He hit on every woman on the set while simultaneously treating them like dirt. He also bossed everyone around as though he were the director when the show already had that part filled.


8. Many of the great actors who appeared on Batman didn't feel like it was dumbing themselves down to appear on the show. Classically-trained actors like Meredith Burgess, Cesar Romero, Maurie Evans (The Puzzler), David Wayne (Mad Hatter), George Saunders (Mr. Freze), Shelly Winters (Ma Parker), Cliff Robertson (Shame), and Vincent Price (Egghead) enjoyed being part of pop culture and gaining larger exposure and they also enjoyed taking a break from serious acting rules to be animated and comical.

9. Burt Ward (aka Robin) was kind of a brat. He insisted on being the last to leave his tstart at one point which led to a war of attrition between him and Adam West. He started out the show married but succumbed to the temptation of all the groupies and his marraige fell apart. He once came close to being beaten up by Bruce Lee during the Green Hornet crossover

10. Adam West had a few different careers before acting. He was a pilot in Hawaii and led airtours with a partner who later got him into acting on a kid's TV show with a chimp as his costar. He also met his wife in Hawaii- a Tahitian named Nga (short for Ngatokoruaimatauaia) and had kids with her. Despite his wild sex life, he still pined for Nga and was holding out for reconciliation with her

11. West was pretty uncomfortable in that outfit and that cowel restricted his lateral movement pretty intensely

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