Adam West, whose real name was William West Anderson, was the actor who played the first Batman. He died on Friday, June 9, 2017, at the age of 88. The legendary actor passed away after a short battle with leukemia, according to a confirmation from his rep. West was surrounded by family and friends in Los Angeles, California.

His family included Marcelle, his third wife of 47 years, six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His family made a statement on Facebook that West always saw himself as "The Bright Knight" and he will always be their hero.

Batman

West played the part of Batman in the television series from January 12, 1966, until it was canceled in March 1968 after three seasons.

It was aired much longer in re-runs. West once said he used to itch all over in the skin-tight blue and gray costume he wore as he fought the villains who tried to destroy Gotham City.

After "Batman" was canceled, West struggled to find work. He put on his cape and mask and made appearances to earn money at carnivals and car shows and in low-paying films. He downsized and moved to Ketchum, Idaho where he still had a house when he died.

Batman is a coveted role today, but West said at that time playing the character kept him from getting some good roles. However, he put his heart and soul into playing Batman. He did get some jobs after the series ended in 1968, including quite a few voice overs. West never received any awards. "Batman" was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding comedy series in its first year, but it lost to CBS’s "The Dick Van Dyke Show." West received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in April 2012.

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It was a coincidence that Adam West played the part of Mayor Adam West in the movie "Family Guy." His last appearance in a movie was in 2009 as Kostka Volvic in "The Dictator's Son."

In recent years there have been several A-list Hollywood actors who followed West in the Batman role, including Val Kilmer, Christian Bale, George Clooney, and Ben Affleck.

Social media reactions

There are plenty of condolences and warm wishes on social media. As soon as the news was announced, Seth MacFarlane and writer David Goodman were among those who paid tribute to West. Affleck called West a hero and a kind, funny, and an all-around great guy. He ended by saying, "Thank you for showing us all how it's done." Other tributes on Twitter came from Mark Hamil, Conan O'Brien, Will Arnett, LeVar Burton, and many others.

Even though there were several actors who played Batman after West, one comment came from a person who said West will always be the real Batman to her. Many called West their childhood hero.