Adam West, the actor best known for playing the Caped Crusader on the campy 1966-68 TV series Batman, has died at the age of 88. He passed away Friday night in Los Angeles following a brief battle with leukemia, Variety reports.
Batman ran for three seasons on ABC and also spawned a 1966 feature film. West worked steadily after the popular series, once appearing as half of a gay couple in a 2001 episode of The Drew Carey Show, but his association with the iconic superhero ultimately limited his roles.
West, who voiced the character Mayor Adam West on Family Guy, is survived by his wife, 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,” his family said in a statement. “He was and always will be our hero.”
In his 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent, psychiatrist Fredric Wertham famously criticized the Batman comics for their “psychologically homosexual” undertones, pointing to the fact that Batman/Bruce Wayne and sidekick Robin/Dick Grayson lived together in close quarters without female companions.
“Batman is the epitome of virility and manliness—just the opposite image of the fag,” Bob Kane, the comic’s creator, later responded. “I suppose the homosexuals like the TV show because of those tight outfits Adam West and Burt Ward wear.”
West addressed the show’s homoeroticism in an interview with the Archive of American Television. “You got two guys running around in tights and leotards, of course there’ll be comment and gossip,” he said. “Now, my attitude, and Burt’s too, was always, gay, straight, whatever—just add ‘em to the ratings. If gays love the show, good, wonderful.”