Thursday, June 22, 2017

RIP Keith Loneker



The Kansas City Star
By Jesse Newell
June 22, 2017

Keith Loneker Sr., who played offensive tackle for the Kansas football team from 1989-92 before establishing careers in the NFL and with film, has died, KU Athletics officials confirmed. He was 46.

Loneker, who was a starter for the 1992 KU team that finished 8-4 and won the Aloha Bowl, spent three seasons in the NFL after going undrafted, playing 19 games with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams from 1993-95 with five starts.

The 6-foot-4 Loneker later received notoriety for his acting career, which included roles in “Out of Sight,” “Superbad” and “Leatherheads.”

Loneker’s son, Keith Jr., is a junior linebacker on the KU football team. Keith Jr. posted on his Instagram page in December that his father had been diagnosed with cancer the previous month.

Keith Sr., who was coached by Glen Mason, earned all-Big Eight honors in his final season with the Jayhawks.


LONEKER, Keith
Born: 6/21/1971, Roselle Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Died: 6/22/2017,  U.S.A.

Keith Loneker’s western – actor:
Outlaws and Angels – 2016 (Little Joe)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

RIP Jim Brewer



Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home
June 18, 2012

Gentleman Jim Brewer, a retired boxer and actor, died Thursday, June 15th, after a rough spell of bad health. Jim was sure-enough Old Austin. He grew up in the Rosedale neighborhood and was a member of McCallum High School's first graduating class. After a successful local boxing career under the tutelage of Pat O'Grady (who later relocated to Oklahoma City and guided his son, Sean, to a world championship), Jim was cast in John Wayne's production of THE ALAMO. This turn of good fortune allowed Jim to develop an acting career that lasted until his health began to decline. He starred in MISSION TO DEATH, which some would claim to be the first independent feature film shot in Austin. But mostly he worked as a supporting actor and had scenes with the likes of Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum, and George C. Scott, among many others. Jim is known for None but the Brave (1966), The Formula (1980) and AB-Negative (2006). He worked in TV as well, including a memorable guest slot on an episode of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. Jim lived mostly in L.A. and was President/Owner of the manufacturing company, Techmar Enclosures, Inc. along with his successful acting career. Jim would always spend a couple of months a year back in Austin, where he'd tool around in his 1965 sky-blue Mustang, which he'd purchased years ago from his actress friend, Karen Valentine (ROOM 222 etc). He was a regular at Dirty Martin's (where there's sort of a shrine to him in one corner of the dining room), Dry Creek Saloon, El Patio, and Avenue B Grocery, as well as at Upper Crust Bakery. He didn't stop training until the last year, and he'd work the heavy bags at R Lord's Boxing Gym like an up-and-coming welterweight whenever he was in town. Every year he hosted an "anniversary of his 70th birthday" dinner at Matt's El Rancho to which he would invite a host of friends including lifelong school friends, surviving Austin boxers from the 1950s and '60s, and his Austin theater group.

Jim was born in Midland, Texas on January 8th, 1937 as James Cleveland Brewer III. Jim is survived by his younger brother Robert Brewer of Lockhart, TX, his niece Breanna and her son Zayden. He was preceded in death by his beloved Mother and biggest fan, Pat Anderson, and will be laid to rest alongside her at Austin Memorial Park. Jim was loved by many and will be greatly missed.

Visitation hours from 5pm to 7pm on Tuesday June 20th at Weed-Corley-Fish on North Lamar.
A celebration of Jim's life will be held Wednesday June 21st from 7pm to 9pm at Dirty Martin's on Guadalupe.


BREWER, Jim (James Cleveland Brewer III)
Born: 1/8/1937, Midland, Texas, U.S.A.
Died: 6/15/2017, Austin, Texas, U.S.A.

Jim Brewer’s westerns – actor:
The Alamo – 1960 (Travis’ man)
Kate Bliss and the Ticker Tape Kid (TV) – 1978 (Ben)
Fort Yeguas – 2012 (Jim Schulte)

Monday, June 19, 2017

RIP Bill Dana



Business Wire
June 19, 2017

It is with great sadness that Emerson College announces the death of comedy pioneer and alumnus Bill Dana ’50. Dana passed away at his home in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday, June 15, 2017 with his wife of 36 years Evelyn (Evy) Shular Dana by his side. He was 92 years old.
Bill Dana was a successful writer, author, cartoonist, producer, recording artist, inventor, and stand-up comedian. Many will remember him as “José Jiménez,” a classic character he created on The Steve Allen Show and continued to perform throughout his career. 

Born William Szathmary in 1924, Bill was the youngest of six children to parents Dena and Joseph (of Hungarian-Jewish descent). He grew up in the midst of the Great Depression in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Bill volunteered for the Army at age 18, and later earned a Bronze Star Medal in WWII as a combat infantryman. After graduating from Emerson College on the GI Bill, he entered show business, beginning his career as an NBC page at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. His career took a major turn when he began writing for comedian Don Adams, including penning the famous “Would You Believe?” jokes. Hired as a writer on the original Tonight Show, Bill eventually became head writer on The Steve Allen Show, hiring a legendary stable of comedy writers: Buck Henry, Bill Persky, and Sam Denoff. His creation of the popular José Jiménez character in 1959 resulted in his own NBC series, The Bill Dana Show (1963-1965).

His comedy albums, as both José and Bill Dana, were top-sellers. He helped launch the careers of comedic greats such as Don Knotts, Jackie Mason, and Jim Nabors. A major career highlight was writing the All in the Family episode, “Sammy’s Visit,” featuring Sammy Davis, Jr.- consistently rated in TV Guide’s “Top 100 Television Episodes of All Time” and for which he received a Writers Guild Award.

Adopted by the original seven Mercury astronauts, Dana became part of U.S space history on May 5, 1961 when the first words from planet Earth spoken by Deke Slayton to Alan Shepard blasting into space were, “OK, José, you’re on your way!” Bill was proudly named America’s first “Honorary Astronaut” by the Aerospace Society, and is honored by inclusion in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Appearances at Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, The London Palladium, and a show-stopping performance at the John F. Kennedy Inaugural Gala are just some career highlights. He received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Pacific Pioneer Broadcaster Association, the Boston Comedy Festival, the American Comedy Festival, and Emerson College, among others.

The National Hispanic Media Coalition endorsed the José Jiménez character and Bill continued to serve on their Advisory Board throughout his life. In 1970, he honored Earth Day by creating America’s first syndicated cartoon panel devoted to the environment, Ecolo/Jest. Bill continued to work in film and television through the ‘90s, including producing The Milton Berle Show, writing Alice in Wonderland (1966) and appearing on numerous television shows—notably as “Uncle Angelo” on The Golden Girls.
 
In 2005, Bill and his dear friend, philanthropist, Emerson Trustee Emeritus, and fellow Emerson alumnus, the late Ted Cutler, founded the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, fulfilling a lifelong goal to honor the study and appreciation of the comedic arts.
Bill is survived by his best friend and cherished wife Evelyn Shular Dana of Walden’s Creek, Tennessee.

Donations may be made in memory of Bill to the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College. Please contact: Robert_Fleming@emerson.edu.


DANA, Bill (William Szathmary)
Born: 10/5/1924, Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Died: 6/15/2017, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.

Bill Dana’s western – actor:
Zorro and Son (TV) – 1983 (Bernardo)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

RIP Stephen Furst



Stephen Furst Flounder from ‘Animal House’ dead at 63

TMZ
6/17/2017

Stephen Furst -- actor and filmmaker known for playing Flounder in 'Animal House' -- has died due to complications from diabetes ... TMZ has learned.

Stephen's son Nathan tells us ... his father died at his home in Ventura Country, CA early Friday morning surrounded by loving friends and family. We're told he battled with diabetes for years and became a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association.
Along with playing Kent 'Flounder' Dorfman in the 1978 comedy classic, he also had starring roles on "Babylon 5" and "St. Elsewhere." He directed a few episodes of 'Babylon 5' as well.

He was 63.


FURST, Stephen
Born: 5/8/1955, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.A.
Died:  6/16/2017, Ventura, California, U.S.A.

Stephen Furst’s western – director:
Stageghost - 2000

RIP Bill Butler



Hollywood Reporter
By Mike Barnes
6/16/2017

He also worked with famed writer-director Melvin Frank on 'The Prisoner of Second Avenue,' 'A Touch of Class' and 'The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox.'

Bill Butler, the British-born film editor who received an Oscar nomination for his work on Stanley Kubrick's 1971 classic A Clockwork Orange, has died. He was 83.

Butler died June 4 at a hospital in Sherman Oaks, his son Stephen Butler told The Hollywood Reporter.

Butler earned his first film editor credit when he collaborated with Melvin Frank on the romantic comedy Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968), starring Gina Lollobrigida, and he also edited A Touch of Class (1973), The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox (1976) and Lost and Found (1979) — all three starring George Segal — for the famed writer-director.

The London native also cut movies including One More Time (1970), directed by Jerry Lewis and starring Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford, and A Little Sex (1982), helmed by Bruce Paltrow.

Butler was introduced to Kubrick by a fellow editor, Ray Lovejoy (who would later edit The Shining), and joined A Clockwork Orange two weeks before the end of shooting. Hunched over a Steenbeck and two Moviolas, he then worked alongside the notoriously perfectionist filmmaker in Kubrick's garage seven days a week, 14 hours a day, for nearly a year.

"I thought that I was going to be left alone to put it together, which is a normal procedure," Butler said in a 2001 interview. "The director shoots it, the editor assembles it. Then you have your first cut, you get input notes from the director, you fine cut that, and then you work with the director.

"Of course, with Stanley it was a different story, it didn't happen. I would say there should be a close-up here and a long shot there, and it would materialize maybe weeks down the road — but not right away, no way. My understanding was that he was like that with all the departments."

Born in 1933, Butler and his family survived the Battle of Britain, and he spent many days as a youth playing amid mounds of rubble scattered throughout London. He sometimes found random streams of 35mm film.

After World War II, Butler regularly visited the guards at Gainsborough Studios in Islington, pestering them for bits of film. He noticed the minuscule progression from box to box and became hooked on reading books about developing film and manipulating negatives.

His brother found him a job at a local studio, and Butler got a chance to work briefly with prominent British editor Jack Harris on The Crimson Pirate (1952), starring Burt Lancaster, before he went off to serve as a member of the Royal Army Ordinance Corps.

In the mid-1950s, Butler began as an assistant to sound editor Leslie Hodgson (Apocalypse Now) and worked on such films as Moby Dick (1956), The Naked Earth (1958), The Unforgiven (1960) and Jack Cardiff's The Lion (1962).

Butler was the sound editor on A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966) when he first met Frank, who had co-written the picture. The pair also collaborated on 1975's The Prisoner of Second Avenue (he was second editor on the Jack Lemmon comedy) and the 1987 film Walk Like a Man.
Butler also worked as a film editor on the acclaimed 1980s NBC series St. Elsewhere and on the 1994 Antonio Banderas film Of Love and Shadows.

According to his son, Butler was "always nostalgic for the physical touch of his white gloves, a grease pencil in his hand and gazing into a projection machine of the past." All three of his children — Stephen, Lynne and Les — were inspired by him and now work in the industry.

Survivors also include Mary, his wife of 60 years, four grandchildren, a great-grandchild and his sister Jean.

A life celebration is planned for Aug. 12. Please contact Stephen Butler


BUTLER, Bill (William Butler)
Born: 1933, London, England, U.K.
Died: 6/4/2017, Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.A.

Bill Butler’s western – film editor:
The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox - 1976

RIP Marisa Marco



Marisa Marco is deceased

Adoma
June 17, 2017

Marisa has left us. And although we know that she would reprimand us for coming here to talk about her, just as she dodged for years the photos, the interviews and any pretense of notoriety, we need not apologize, and that, from that space reserved for smokers somewhere They will have qualified for it, understand that we could not just say goodbye.

Because the actress leaves us: for some, the voice of Mary Ingalls, of the Jo of A man at home; For another generation, and always Corky Sherwood, Lilith Sternin, so many laughs ... But also the director: enjoyed, fun, laughing eagerly takes well-executed and worthy of his intelligent humor. And, above all, the companion and the friend: dear and admired. Admired and very dear.

Marisa, we are sure, wise and lucid as always, will have ordered a "tecito", will have lit a cigar, and looks at us already, mockingly and sympathetically, from some privileged viewpoint.

Until forever, my dear. You can not imagine how much we're going to miss.

All our love for her daughter and the little newcomer.


MARCO, Marisa (Maria Luisa Marco)
Born: 19??, Spain
Died: 6/17/2017, Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Marisa Marco’s westerns – voice dubber:
Little House on the Prairie (TV) – 1974-1983 [Spanish voice of Melissa Sue Anderson]
Garringo – 1969 [1988 DVD Spanish voice of Maria Pia Conte, Fanny Grey]
Navajo Joe – 1966 [? DVD Spanish voice of Franca Polesello]

RIP Mieczysław Kalenik



Polish actor Mieczysław Kalenik HAS died, played Zbyszka from Bogdaniec

FAKT24.PL
6/17/2017

Mieczysław Kalenik has died, an actor known for his role as Zbyszko from Bogdaniec in "The Knights" by Alexander Ford. Information about the actor's death was given by his daughter Magdalena Kalenik. The artist died, June 16 in Międzyrzec Podlaski. He was 84 years old.

Mieczysław Kalenik was born on January 1 1933 in Międzyrzec Podlaski. The actor made his debut in 1957 in the musical "Kiss Me, Kasia" by Jerzy Rakowiecki according to Shakespeare's "Taming the Shrew". During his studies he also played several episodic roles, including: In films: "Generation", "Captain Martens's Treasure", "Hours of Hope", "Warsaw Siren". But he gained real fame in 1960 when he played one of his most important roles - Zbyszko from Bogdaniec in "The Teutonic Knights" by Alexander Ford.

When Alexander Ford prepared the "Teutonic Knights", many young actors dreamed of Zbyszek's role in Bogdaniec. I had to give up my dream because I read that Bogusz Bilewski was supposed to play it. However, fate decided otherwise. When I went to the SPATiF Club, I saw three men from the film crew. One of them, the production manager, having learned that I was an actor, invited me to a short conversation with Ford. This one, watching me carefully, asked if I would like to play "Teutonic Knights" - he recalled Kalenik years later.

The actor also played, among others. "First Day of Freedom", "Life Again", "Everything for Sale", "Kazimierz Wielki" and - in the late 90s - Stolnik in "Pan Tadeusz".

Six years ago, in an interview with Krzysztof Lubczyński, the actor admitted that he had fulfilled himself as an artist - although he had been told for a long time that he could only play the role of Zbyszko from Bogdaniec. - After this role (...) Alexander Ford gave me a role in the film "The First Day of Freedom" by Leon Kruczkowski, where I played Otton, the rapist, and it was a completely different role from Zbyszko. I really like this role. So I was acting as an actor, but never dreamed of a role, the proverbial Hamlet. In the aftermath of the "Teutonic Knights," Ludwik Sempolinski told me: "If it was before the war, no one would let you go, you would have everything," Kalenik said.

Mieczysław Kalenik died on Friday in his native Międzyrzec Podlaski. He was 84 years old.


KALENIK, Mieczyslaw
Born: 1/1/1933, Międzyrzec Podlaski, Lubelskie, Poland
Died: 6/16/2017, Międzyrzec Podlaski, Lubelskie, Poland

Mieczysław Kalenik’s western – actor:
Tecumseh – 1972 (General Brook)

Friday, June 16, 2017

RIP John G. Alvidsen



‘Rocky’ director John G. Avildsen dies at 81

Los Angeles Times
By Jeffrey Fleishman
June 16, 2017

Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen, whose “Rocky” sent a shot of adrenaline through movie theaters and turned Sylvester Stallone into one of cinema’s most unforgettable boxers, has died at 81.
Avildsen’s eldest son, Anthony, said the filmmaker died of pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

With rousing music and sentimental scripts, Avildsen was a master at ennobling and lifting the underdog into states of grace. He won best director for “Rocky” (1976), the tale of Rocky Balboa’s gritty and unlikely transcendence from the streets of South Philadelphia, and was also known for “The Karate Kid” (1984), the story of a restless teenager and his Okinawan martial arts mentor.
But Avildsen was also known for deep and nuanced portraits of characters caught in the complexities of their times. His “Save the Tiger” (1973), which won Jack Lemmon an Academy Award for best actor, was the story of a garment manufacturer who burns down his company for insurance money. In “Joe” (1970), Peter Boyle starred as a racist factory worker and iconoclast in an exploration of hippies and murder that touched on the nation’s changing cultures.

In an interview with The Times in 2014, Avildsen recalled his encounter with Lemmon: “When I came to meet him for the first time I had long hair, an extensive beard and blue velvet jeans with daisies on my butt. I explained to him if he chose me to direct the movie, I didn’t want to see him in it. I didn’t want all the mannerisms, all of the things he had grown comfortable with over the years. I wanted to see [the character], not him.”

Avildsen explored social ills, unexpected relationships and the friction and forgiveness that run through life. “Lean on Me” (1989) cast Morgan Freeman as a New Jersey school principal trying to help students stay clear of violence and drugs. “Neighbors” (1981) starred John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as disparate middle-aged neighbors in a comedy that captured the insecurities and eccentricities of suburbia. Critic Roger Ebert called “Neighbors” a “truly interesting comedy, an offbeat experiment in hallucinatory black humor. It grows on you.”

But it was his film about a boxer that roused a nation, revived the well-worn pugilist melodrama and set loose a string of sequels. “Rocky” entered the consciousness at a time America was shaken by Watergate and the Vietnam War and was trying to find its way as the radicalism of the 1960s settled into the uncertain — and at times bland and hero-less — 1970s.
“Rocky” was a hit with audiences but not always with critics. Writing in the New York Times, Vincent Canby concluded: “Under the none too decisive direction of [Avildsen], Mr. Stallone is all over ‘Rocky’ to such an extent it begins to look like a vanity production…. It’s as if Mr. Stallone had studied the careers of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola and then set out to copy the wrong things.”

The Hollywood Reporter in its review credited Avildsen with “extraordinary insight, and an even more extraordinary feeling for the rhythm and pace of his film…. ‘Rocky is a picture that should make movie history.”

In an interview last year, Avildsen told the Baltimore Sun about his initial misgivings about “Rocky”: “When this script came to me from an old friend ... I said I had no interest in boxing, I think boxing’s sort of a dumb thing,” he said. “He pleaded and pleaded, so I finally read the thing. And on the second or third page, he’s talking to his turtles, Cuff and Link. I was charmed by it, and I thought it was an excellent character study and a beautiful love story. And I said yes.”

Avildsen, who also directed Marlon Brando and George C. Scott in the World War II thriller “The Formula,” is the subject of a new documentary, “John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs.” That film had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival this year and is slated for a digital and home video release in August.

Born in Oak Park, Ill., Avildsen is survived by sons Anthony, Jonathan and Ashley; and daughter, Bridget.


AVILDSEN, John G. (John Guilbert Avildsen)
Born: 12/21/1935, Oak Park, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 6/16/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

John G. Avildsen’s western – director:
8 Seconds - 1994

RIP Gilberto Galimberti



Assistant director, stuntman, master of arms and actor Gilberto Galimberti has died in Rome, Italy on June 16th. He was 84.  Born in Rome on February 25, 1933, Gilberto was an expert in judo and debuted as a film actor in the early 1960s thanks to his acrobatics skills, which lead him to become one of the most important master of arms at that time. In 1976, together with some of his colleagues, he founded The Acrobat Cinematography Organization, which, among other things, dealt with Tomas Milian's films. Among the films in which he appeared the two Trinity films with the Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, are best remembered. After taking part in over 180 films often being billed as Gil Roland, he concluded his career in the early 1990s. He had appeared in 43 Euro-westerns during his career.


GALIMBERTI, Gilberto
Born: 2/25/1933, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Died: 6/16/2017, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Gilberto Glimberti’s westerns – actor, stuntman, mster of arms:
Hercules and the Treasure of the Aztecs - 1964 (Aztec)
Adiós Gringo – 1965 (Ranchester cowboy)
Gold Train – 1965 (cowboy)
Blood at Sundown – 1966 (Tim)
God Will Forgive My Pistol – 1966, 1969 (Ross)
Buckaroo – 1967 (Nash henchman)
Colt in the Hand of the Devil - 1967 (El Condor/Il Capataz henchman)
Days of Vengeance – 1967 (Butch henchman)
Death Sentence – 1967 (gunman)
Django Kills Silently – 1967 (brawler)
And Then a Time for Killing - 1968 (Trianas' right hand man)
Day After Tomorrow – 1968 (Espartero henchman)
Full House for the Devil – 1968 (Sean) [as Gill Roland]
Hate is My God – 1969 (Carter henchman)
If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death - 1968 (Lasky henchman)
Shotgun – 1968 (Kildare henchman)
Sabata – 1969 (Shotgun )
Apocalypse Joe - 1970 (Moe) [master of arms]
The Beast – 1970 (bandit)
Shango – 1970 (Martinez soldier)
They Call Me Trinity – 1970 (Major henchman)
The Unholy Four – 1970 (townsman)
A Man Called Django – 1971 (
The Masked Thief – 1971 (Collins) [as Gil Rolan]
The Return of Sabata – 1971 (circus man)
Trinity is STILL My Name – 1971 (poker player with eye patch)
Viva Django! - 1971
An Animal Called Man – 1972 (Joe)
A Bounty Killer in Trinity – 1972 (wagon guard)
Gunmen and the Holy Ghost – 1972 (the priest)
Life Is Tough, Eh Providence? - 1972 (Challenger’s henchman)
They Called Him Veritas - 1972
Trinity and Sartana Are Coming - 1972 (Willie)
The Two Sons of Trinity – 1972 (friar)
And They Smelled the Strange, Exciting, Dangerous Scent of Dollars - 1973 (Fernandez)
A Book of Dollars – 1973 (Catapult henchman) [as Gill Rolland]
Court Martial – 1973 (Smith henchman)
Fasthand is Still My Name – 1973 (Raul) [as Gill Rolland]
The Three Musketeers of the West – 1973
The Crazy Adventures of Len and Coby – 1974 (bandit)
White Fang and the Hunter – 1975 (brawler)
Macho Killers – 1977 (deputy)
Arizona Road – 1991 (referee)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

RIP Adam West



Adam West, Straight-Faced Star of TV's 'Batman,' Dies at 88

The Hollywood Reporter
By Mike Barnes
6/11/2017

The actor struggled to find work after the campy superhero series was canceled, but he rebounded with voiceover gigs, including one as the mayor of Quahog on 'Family Guy.'

Adam West, the ardent actor who managed to keep his tongue in cheek while wearing the iconic cowl of the Caped Crusader on the classic 1960s series Batman, has died. He was 88.

West, who was at the pinnacle of pop culture after Batman debuted in January 1966, only to see his career fall victim to typecasting after the ABC show flamed out, died Friday night in Los Angeles after a short battle with leukemia, a family spokesperson said.

West died peacefully surrounded by his family and is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans' lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement.

After struggling for years without a steady job, the good-natured actor reached a new level of fame when he accepted an offer to voice the mayor of Quahog — named Adam West; how’s that for a coincidence! — on Seth MacFarlane’s long-running Fox animated hit Family Guy.

On the big screen, West played a wealthy Main Line husband who meets an early end in Paul Newman’s The Young Philadelphians (1959), was one of the first two humans on the Red Planet in Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) and contributed his velvety voice to the animated Redux Riding Hood (1997), which received an Oscar nomination for best short film.

Raised on a ranch outside Walla Walla, Wash., West caught the attention of Batman producer William Dozier when he played Captain Quik, a James Bond-type character with a sailor’s cap, in commercials for Nestle’s Quik.

West, who had appeared in many Warner Bros. television series as a studio contract player, was filming the spaghetti Western The Relentless Four (1965) in Europe at the time. He returned to the States to meet with Dozier, “read the pilot script and knew after 20 pages that it was the kind of comedy I wanted to do,” he said in a 2006 interview with the Archive of American Television.

He signed a contract on the spot, only asking that he be given the chance to approve who would play his sidekick, Robin, the Boy Wonder. (He would OK the casting of Burt Ward, who had a brown belt in karate but zero acting experience).

“The tone of our first show, by Lorenzo Semple Jr., was one of absurdity and tongue in cheek to the point that I found it irresistible,” West said. “I think they recognized that in me from what they’d seen me do before. I understood the material and brought something to it.

“You can’t play Batman in a serious, square-jawed, straight-ahead way without giving the audience the sense that there’s something behind that mask waiting to get out, that he’s a little crazed, he’s strange.”

The hunky Lyle Waggoner (later of The Carol Burnett Show) and Peter Deyell also tested to play the Gotham City crime fighters, but West and Ward clearly were superior, and Batman debuted at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 12, 1966, a Wednesday.

The cliffhanger episode would be resolved the very next night — Same Bat-time! Same Bat-channel! The show was originally intended to last an hour, but ABC split it up when it had two time slots available on its primetime schedule.

West said that he played Batman “for laughs, but in order to do [that], one had to never think it was funny. You just had to pull on that cowl and believe that no one would recognize you.”

The series, filmed in eye-popping bright colors in an era of black-and-white and featuring a revolving set of villains like the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), Joker (Cesar Romero), Penguin (Burgess Meredith) and Catwoman (Julie Newmar), was an immediate hit; the Thursday installment was No. 5 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1965-66 season, and the Wednesday edition was No. 10.

"Stellar, exemplar, a king to the end," Newmar said of West in a statement: "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."

Batman was nominated for the Emmy Award for outstanding comedy series in its first year, losing out to CBS’ The Dick Van Dyke Show. A 20th Century Fox movie was rushed into production and played in theaters in the summer before season two kicked off in September 1966.

However, the popularity of the show soon plummeted, and Batman — despite the addition of Yvonne Craig as Batgirl — was canceled in March 1968 after its third season.

West quickly struggled to find work, forced to make appearances in his cape and cowl at car shows and carnivals and in such obscure films as The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971), written by Semple, and The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood (1980). He and his family downsized, leaving their home in the tony Pacific Palisades for Ketchum, Idaho.

“The people who were hiring, the people who were running the studios, running the shows, were dinosaurs,” the actor said in the 2013 documentary Starring Adam West. “They thought Batman was a big accident, that there was no real creative thought, expertise or art behind it. They were wrong.”

West returned to voice his iconic character in such cartoons as The New Adventures of Batman, Legends of the Superheroes, SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and The Simpsons, and Warner Bros.’ long-awaited DVD release of ABC’s Batman in 2014 brought him back into the Bat Signal’s spotlight.

He was born William West Anderson in Seattle on Sept. 19, 1928, the second of two sons. His father, Otto, was a wheat farmer; his mother, Audrey, was a pianist and opera singer.

West attended an all-boys high school, then graduated with a major in English literature from Whitman College. During his senior year, he worked for a local radio station, doing everything from Sunday morning religion shows to the news.

He also starred in a couple of plays at the local theater. “I found that I could move an audience and I was appreciated,” he said.

In the Army, West served as an announcer on American Forces Network television, then worked as the station manager at Stanford while he was a graduate student.

He got a job at a McClatchy station in Sacramento, Calif., then moved to Hawaii, where he hosted a two-hour weekday show in the late 1950s with a diaper-wearing chimp named Peaches. (West said he once interviewed William Holden as the actor was passing through.)

West got a contract at Warner Bros. at $150 a week and was placed in one of the studio’s TV series — Colt .45, Maverick, Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, Cheyenne, etc. — pretty much every week.

He got his first regular TV role when he played Det. Sgt. Steve Nelson under the command of Robert Taylor on the 1959-62 ABC/NBC series The Detectives, coming aboard when that show expanded to one hour in color.

After he split with Warner Bros., West showed up in such forgettable films as Geronimo (1962) starring Chuck Connors, Tammy and the Doctor (1963) with Sandra Dee and in The Three Stooges film The Outlaws Is Coming (1965) before Batman changed his life forever.

He later starred in a rejected 1991 NBC pilot episode called Lookwell — written by Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel — in which he portrayed a once-famous TV detective who thinks he can solve crimes in real life.

Then came the gig on MacFarlane’s Family Guy.

“I had done a pilot with Seth that he had written for me. It turned out we had the same kind of comic sensibilities and got along well,” he said in a 2012 interview. “When Family Guy came around and Seth became brilliantly successful, he decided to call me and see what I was doing. He asked if I would like to come aboard as the mayor, and I thought it would be neat to do something sort of absurd and fun.”

The documentary Starring Adam West culminates with him receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.

He married Marcelle in 1970; they met when she was the wife of the Lear Jet founder and they posed for a publicity photo at Santa Monica Airport, with him in his Batman costume. (They each had two children from their previous marriages, then added a couple of their own.)

When Batman was canceled, “The only thing I thought is that it would be the end of me, and it was for a bit,” West told an audience at Comic-Con in 2014. “But then I realized that what we created in the show … we created this zany, lovable world.

“I look around and I see the adults — I see you grew up with me, and you believe in the adventure. I never believed this would happen, that I would be up here with illustrious people like yourselves. I’m so grateful! I’m the luckiest actor in the world, folks, to have you still hanging around.”


WEST, Adam (William West Anderson)
Born: 9/19/1928, Walla Walla, Washington, U.S.A.
Died: 6/9/2017, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Adam West’s Westerns – actor:
Bronco (TV) – 1959 (Maj. Carter)
Cheyenne (TV) – 1959 (Ashley Claiborn)
Colt .45 (TV) – 1959 (Doc Holliday, Marshal Joe Benjamin, Sgt. Ed Kaller)
Lawman (TV) – 1959 (Doc Holliday)
Maverick (TV) – 1959 (Vic Nolan, Rudolph St. Cloud, George Henry Arnett)
Sugarfoot (TV) – 1959 (Doc Holliday/Frederick Polaski)
Guestward Ho! (TV) – 1960 (Wild Bill Hickok)
Bonanza (TV) – 1961 (Frank Milton)
Laramie (TV) – 1961, 1963 (deputy, Kett Darby)
The Rifleman (TV) – 1961 Christopher Rolf)
Tales of Wells Fargo (TV) – 1961 (Steve Daco)
Geronimo – 1962 (Lt. John Delahay)
Gunsmoke (TV) – 1963 (Emmett)
Mara of the Wildernes – 1965 (Ken Williams)
The Outlaws Is Coming – 1965 (Kenneth Cabot)
The Relentless Four – 1965 (Ranger Sam Garrett)
The Virginian (TV) – 1965 (Sam Loomis)
The Big Valley (TV) – 1968 (Maj. Jonathan Eliot)
Alias Smith and Jones (TV) – 1972 (Brubaker)
Nevada Smith (TV) – 1975 (Frank Hartlee)
Zorro (TV) – 1990 (Dr. Henry Wayne)
Buckaroo: The Movie – 2005 (Judge Werner)