Holy City Hall, it’s the Bat-signal, Batman!
Six days Adam West died from leukemia at age 88, the actor who gained fame as the star of the “Batman” television series in the 1960s was memorialized Thursday night in a manner befitting his beloved character.
With a wink and a tug at the heartstrings, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti honored West by exclaiming, “Citizens of Gotham, welcome to your City Hall!” As thousands of fans cheered, Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck flipped a switch, projecting a giant Bat-signal — courtesy of DC Comics — onto L.A. City Hall.
Beck admitted to being excited about honoring West in this manner. “I’m a real-life chief of police, and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to turn on the Bat-signal.”
West’s family choked back tears upon seeing the emblem, as did surprise guests Burt Ward, who played Batman’s sidekick Robin in the series, and Lee Meriwether, who portrayed Catwoman opposite West and Ward in the first “Batman” theatrical release.
Later in an interview, Ward said West would have been impressed by the tribute. “He was bigger than life. This would be something that Adam would really stand behind and say, ‘You know, they did it right.’”
Meriwether agreed. “I felt that Adam was here,” she said. “I know how he would react to this, because he would be so excited, and trying to not show too much. He certainly deserved this tribute. He was a wonderful man, a dear to work with. He walked that fine line of comedy or farce. It was just right on the edge, and it was so well done.”
She said West’s passing took her by surprise.
“Two weeks ago, we were in Niagara Falls at a convention,” Meriwether recalled, her eyes welling up. “We sat next to each other talking. No indication that he was ill or anything. When we got home, that’s when we began to hear things, that he wasn’t well, then all of a sudden, he’s gone, and it was just much too fast.”
Many in the crowd wore Batman T-shirts, but Chad Evett, 30, from Los Angeles, decided to honor West by dressing as Batman’s nemesis, “The Riddler.” His friend Ashley Olson, 29, from Woodland Hills, came costumed as “Harley Quinn,” a villain introduced later in the franchise.
“The original series with Adam West ran in the afternoons on TV. I’d get home from school, and I’d let it play while I did my homework,” said Evett. “I felt like I had to be here tonight because this is a once in a lifetime moment. It’s like being inside the comic books for a moment.”
Eric and Angelica Garcia from Glendale brought their four sons, who ranged in age from seven to 12. Nine-year-old Gabriel dusted off last year’s Batman Halloween costume for the occasion, the outfit’s sewn-in muscles bulging from his tiny chest.
“When the Bat-signal lights up, that means Batman is going to go in and save the day,” he explained.
Myles O’Toole, 30, from Orange, and Nicolette Lucio, 27, from Huntington Beach, came in character as “Two-Face” and “Poison Ivy.”
“Adam West’s Batman seemed more like a man,” said Lucio.
“He wasn’t machines, he wasn’t all this armor, or molded breastplates and fake muscles,” added O’Toole. “He was just this awesome guy. Pure West.”