Adam West, the pop culture icon who entertained television audiences as Batman in the 1960s, died Friday at the age of 88 after succumbing to leukemia, his family announced. While West is now gone, his legacy as the Caped Crusader remains as his portrayal of the superhero revitalized the franchise and gave the typically-stern character a fresh, fun personality enjoyed by children and adults alike.
Here are West’s top five moments as Batman over the course of the series’ three-season run:
The Batusi — from “Hi Diddle Riddle” — Season 1, Episode 1
West gifted audiences one of his most iconic moments as Batman straight from the get-go. In the pilot episode, the superhero showcased his classic “Batusi” dance — based on the popular “Watsui” groove of the era — and immediately let viewers know that this iteration of the Dark Knight wasn’t going to be so dark after all. Though, it wasn’t all fun and games for the character — he utilized the dance in order to gain critical information about Riddler from his assistant.
Batman spars with a tiger — “Better Luck Next Time” — Season 1, Episode 20
Who better to do Catwoman’s bidding than a vicious tiger? The Caped Crusader’s iconic love-hate interest was one of the best villains throughout the series, evidenced by her willingness to get the jungle cat to maul West’s character. Best of all, the episode opens with this exchange right over the titles, throwing viewers right in the fray like any good action show should do.
Bruce Wayne fights in a tuxedo — Batman: The Movie — 1966
West’s portrayal as Batman wasn’t just limited to television. He starred in the eponymous 1966 film and got a rare chance to showcase his crimefighting skills with the mask off when Bruce Wayne — his billionaire playboy alter-ego — brawls with several henchmen while wearing a tux. It’s a fight that probably would’ve made James Bond jealous — or at least impressed.
Santa Claus cameo — “The Duo Is Slumming” — Season 2, Episode 32
This scene may not qualify as “great” for some in terms of acting or Batman’s detective skills, but rather it’s a perfect reminder of the campy, good-natured characterization of West’s Batman. In the 1960s, the Dark Knight legitimately believes in Santa Claus like the children watching the show and even is willing to reveal the location of the mysterious Batcave in exchange for some goodies from actor Andy Devine’s Santa.
Batman gets booed — “Deep Freeze” — Season 2, Episode 20
Unlike the modern rendition of Batman, West’s 1960s version was universally beloved most of the time. But there were some exceptions, like in Season 2 when nemesis Freeze manages to corrupt the Caped Crusader’s image, leading to a scene in which a boy boos a photo of Batman in a store window. West’s character responds in his classic, deadpan tone: “Nothing has ever cut me so deeply to the quick. No blow ever struck by any arch-villain has ever hurt me so acutely as that little boy’s boo.” It’s utterly hilarious, and illustrates why West’s Batman was and remains so beloved. He may have ended up typecast later in life, but that’s probably because he played this unique version of Batman so darn well.
Correction: The original version of this story misstated the name of Adam West’s Batman dance. It was the Batusi, not the Batsui.
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