Regarding the June 11 obituary for Adam West, “Actor renowned for his role as Batman”:
I had the great honor of sharing the stage with West in two dinner theater productions back in the 1980s. The plays were forgettable, but he was not. He was great fun to work with and a true gentleman, on- and offstage, always possessing that devilish sense of humor found in his television and film work. He, unlike some stars, was very approachable and friendly, and he regaled the cast with terrific stories of Hollywood. He also was very giving onstage, generously sharing the moments with his fellow actors, never stepping on laughs. It was a new adventure, a new acting experience each night with “Batman.”
I was asked once if I had any improvisational training, and I said that I had attended the “Adam West School of Improvisation,” a joke about how he and I would improvise and sometimes rewrite a show to get through a particular scene when the lines seemed to have disappeared from our minds. He was also a very sharp dresser. I still remember coveting his Gucci loafers! Thanks to Adam West for some lovely memories.
Dana Scott Galloway, Washington
The obituary for Adam West said that “Mr. West entered the Batcave and emerged in his mask and cape as Batman.” That implied a costume change in the Batcave, when in fact Batman and Robin take the fireman’s pole, pull the lever labeled INSTANT COSTUME CHANGE LEVER on the way down and land fully dressed.
The obituary also said, “It is hard to overestimate the popularity of ‘Batman’ among young baby boomers in the late 1960s.” In fact, it is easy. “Batman” enjoyed high Nielsen ratings only in the 1965-1966 season. In that year, it was shown twice a week, ranking No. 10 on Wednesdays and No. 5 on Thursdays. If everyone had watched on one night, “Batman” would have been the most popular show on television that season. In its second season, “Batman” was cut to one night a week, and neither in its second nor its final third season was “Batman” in the Nielsen top 30.
Between being canceled in March 1968 and going into reruns in September 1969, “Batman” was off the air and unavailable. No Internet or home video in those days. One could estimate “Batman’s” popularity “in the late 1960s” at zero and be about right.
“Batman” is good television and was very briefly popular. The biggest hits on television are typically terrible. Between 1965 and 1968, as the United States escalated the war in Vietnam, the shows whose popularity really is “hard to overestimate” included “ The Andy Griffith Show,” “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,” “The Lucy Show,” “The Red Skelton Hour” and “The Red Skelton Show.”
Who doesn’t remember “Judy Judy Judy”?