Not everyone has the chance to meet their childhood hero. But I got to do just that a few years ago when I met Batman.
Growing up, I loved comic books. And at only 20 to 25 cents a copy, how could you go wrong. Superman, Green Lantern, Flash – it didn’t matter. I read them all.
But my favorite comic book was always Batman. And like many of my friends, I often watched the Batman reruns on television. I never quite understood why the Riddler didn’t just shoot the Caped-Crusader or at least stick around long enough to make sure Batman was percolated to death in a giant coffee pot, but I still liked the show.
So when I heard Adam West, the original Batman, was coming to speak at the university where I worked, I was more than just a little excited. At the time, I worked in advertising and public relations. What I needed, I decided, was an interview with the Batman himself. So I slogged through all the red tape, made numerous phone calls, faced rejections, and finally, like many hard-working journalists, I gave up to work on other, pressing stories.
Then, one afternoon as I sat at my desk, the phone rang. On the other end of the line, a smooth, baritone voice asked, “Is Mark in?”
“This is Mark,” I said.
“Hi, Mark. This is Adam West.”
Surprised? Yes! Like finding out Michael Keaton had been picked to play the super hero in the movies of the 80’s.
“Hello, Mr. West. Thanks for calling. But I’ve got to admit I wasn’t expecting your call and don’t really have any questions prepared.”
“That’s okay,” he laughed. “How about if I interview you instead?”
I couldn’t believe it – my hero was calling me, and he had a sense of humor, too. What were the chances?!
West proved to be much more humble and personable than I would have ever expected. He expressed the opportunity to play Batman and the success that followed.
“There are some actors who reject or are bitter about the success they have portraying a character,” said West. “My feeling was ‘How lucky can you get!’ I was able to play a character that became a classic. Now everywhere I go, I’m greeted with warmth and hospitality. And how many guys wouldn’t love the opportunity to be Batman for one day?”
West was staying busy with commercials and voiceovers for such animated series as The Simpsons (I still love the line “Pure West”), Rugrats, Futurama, and Family Guy.
At the time, West told me he had no plans to retire soon, and still continues his acting and voice work.
“I’m too young to retire,” West said with a chuckle. “And I enjoy the money. It takes a lot of money,” said West, reverting to his familiar serious voice from Batman, “to keep Wayne Manor going.”
I eventually met West in person when he made his way to campus. That was fun, too, but for me, talking to West at length on the phone was more memorable. After all, you never forget the day you meet your childhood hero.