It's difficult to picture anyone else except Adam West in the role of the caped crusader in the 1960s. Luckily for the good taste of Adam West, we don’t have to. In his memoir, Back To The Batcave, Adam West recounted his first contact with Batman, in producer Richard Dozier’s office, where he was invited to read the planned pilot of the series.
In his book, West acknowledged that before this, Batman wasn’t necessarily a foreign figure to him. He wrote, “When I was growing up on a farm in Walla Walla, Washington, I found a cache of comic books in an old bunkhouse, and Batman had made a big impression on my ten-year-old mind. He was so many exciting characters rolled into one: Sherlock Holmes, Zorro, even a bit of Dracula.” West also appreciated the self-made talent and quality of Batman and added, “Batman had made himself what he was.”
Still, West had his reservations about whether the series was for him, citing that an actor playing a superhero was much closer to the death of an acting career than anyone had thought. He said, “The conventional wisdom in Hollywood was that donning a costume was the equivalent of slipping into a career straitjacket.” Still, West decided to put those thoughts aside and read the script anyhow, and what he read delighted him.
West recounted that after a few minutes of reading, he was doubled over on the floor laughing. What was the moment that led to this chuckle-fest? West said, “In the script, Batman had just entered a restaurant in full costume and was telling the maître d’ he preferred to sit at the bar instead of a table since ‘I wouldn’t wish to attract attention.’” West went on, “What was funny wasn’t only the concept of this man in a flashy cowl and cape honestly thinking he could be inconspicuous. What made the script and the character work was the scrupulously formal language that made you believe he believed it.”
West’s agent, who had been with him as he was reading over the pilot, expressed a bit more incredulity. “I thought this guy was a serious crime fighter.” West responded, “He is. That’s what’s so entertaining.”
West was officially interested in the role. Luckily, Dozier revealed something important: West already had the role, if he wanted it. West’s memoir quotes Dozier’s words as “He had the part when I watched him walk into the conference room.”
The rest is Bat History.
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