June 10, 2017

20,000 Vinyl LPs 93: Batman, Adam West & the Whole Gang

Batman TV soundtrack
vinyl LP cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®


William West Anderson, aka Adam West, died yesterday, June 9, 2017. He was best known for his portrayal of the title role in the 1960s ABC series Batman and its theatrical feature film. I remember watching the series and even though the acting was cheesy, the sets were funky and the music was bad 60's (although Batman Blues is a great slow, mellow and sexy song), the laughs and the guest actors kept me coming back.  



 
Batman TV soundtrack
vinyl LP cover
photo of album cover by Styrous®



Burt Ward co-starred as Robin, Batman's Sidekick. When he was 19, Ward auditioned for the role of Robin. He and West were up against Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell for the roles of Batman and Robin, respectively. West & Ward won the roles: as bad as the acting in the finished production was, when you watch the audition, you understand why (link below). Selected for the role of Robin, Ward thought people would find Gervis (his real name with the 'G' soft, as in gentleman) hard to pronounce and adopted his mother's maiden name, Ward. He also changed the spelling of Bert to 'Burt' to add "punch".                      



123 episodes aired on the ABC network from January 12, 1966, to March 14, 1968. In theory, it was a crime series, however, it was campy and tongue-in-cheek. The situations were exaggerated and generally played for laughs. This increased as the seasons wore on, with the addition of ever greater absurdity. The characters, however, always took the absurd situations extremely seriously – which added to the comedy. West once said that he played Batman “for laughs, but in order to do [that], one had to never think it was funny. You just had to pull on that cowl and believe that no one would recognise you.”    

Great actors of the time appeared in the series, The Joker was played by Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith was The Penguin, Frank Gorshin was confusing as The Riddler, George Sanders was chilling as Mr. Freeze. Catwoman was played by Julie Newmar AND Eartha Kitt. Others in that rarefied star field were David Wayne as Mad Hatter, Vincent Price as Egghead, Carolyn Jones as Marsha the Queen of Diamonds, Cliff Robertson as Shame, Anne Baxter as Olga the Queen of the Cossacks and none other than Milton Berle as Louie the Lilac.   


Batman TV soundtrack
vinyl LP cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®


In 1966, Batman: The Exclusive Original Soundtrack Album was released on LP, featuring music by Nelson Riddle and snippets of dialogue from Adam West, Burt Ward, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, Anne Baxter (as Zelda the Great) and George Sanders (the first Mr. Freeze). The Batman Theme was included, along with titles like Batusi A Go! Go!, Batman Thaws Mr. Freeze and Batman Blues - my favorite song on the album (link below).     


Batman TV soundtrack
vinyl LP cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®


The Batman character was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, In 1997, TV Guide ranked the episodes "The Purr-fect Crime" and "Better Luck Next Time" #86 on its list of the 100 Greatest Episodes. In 2009, "Better Luck Next Time" was ranked #72.    



Batman TV soundtrack
vinyl LP back cover
photo by Styrous®



Batman Theme, the title song of the 1966 Batman TV series, was composed by Neal Hefti. This song is built around a guitar hook reminiscent of spy film scores and surf music. It has a twelve bar blues progression, using only three chords until the coda.    

The eleven cries of "Batman!" are sung by a chorus of four tenors and four sopranos (performed by The Ron Hicklin Singers). A myth purports that the chorus is actually a group of horns. Adam West's book Back to the Batcave also fuels this rumor by claiming the chorus is instrumental, not vocal. However, Hefti stated that the chorus was made up of eight singers, one of whom jokingly wrote on his part, "word and music by Neal Hefti".       



Batman TV soundtrack
vinyl LP back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®




Adam West (born William West Anderson on September 19, 1928, in Walla Walla, Washington) was an American actor whose most famous role was as Batman in the 1960s ABC series Batman and its theatrical feature film. His career spanned seven decades.

He began acting in films in 1959, playing opposite Chuck Connors in Geronimo (1962) and The Three Stooges in The Outlaws Is Coming (1965). He also appeared in the science fiction film Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964), and performed voice work on The Fairly OddParents, The Simpsons, and Family Guy, playing fictional versions of himself in all three.    


Batman TV soundtrack
vinyl LP back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®



West participated on the speech and debate team at  Whitman College in Walla Walla. He was drafted into the United States Army where he served as an announcer on American Forces Network television. After his discharge, he moved to Hawaii to pursue television. While in Hawaii, he was picked for a role as the sidekick on a children's show called El Kini Popo Show, which featured a chimp. He later took over as star of the show; I found this very amusing. In 1959, he moved to Hollywood, where he took the stage name Adam West. In his autobiography Return to the Batcave, he explains he chose "Adam" simply because he liked the way it looked and sounded with "West", his middle name.      




Batman TV soundtrack
vinyl LP back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®



West made two guest appearances on Perry Mason in 1961 and 1962. His first role was in "The Case of the Barefaced Witness". His other role was as folk singer Pete Norland in "The Case of the Bogus Books". He starred in an episode of the ABC Outer Limits series titled The Invisible Enemy. He made a brief appearance in the film Soldier in the Rain with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen. He starred as Major Dan McCready, the ill-fated mission commander of Mars Gravity Probe 1 in the 1964 film Robinson Crusoe on Mars. In 1965, he was cast in the comedy Western The Outlaws Is Coming, the last feature film starring The Three Stooges. He played Christopher Rolf in the episode Stopover of ABC's The Rifleman, which aired on April 25, 1961.    



Batman TV soundtrack
vinyl LP label, side 1
photo by Styrous®


The original Batmobile from the 1960s TV series was a concept car promoted by Ford's Lincoln brand. It was designed by Ford stylists Bill Schmidt and John Najjar and hand-built by Ghia in Turin, Italy at a cost of $250,000 (equivalent to $2,200,000 in 2017). It auctioned on January 19, 2013, at the Barrett-Jackson auction house in Scottsdale, Arizona, for $4.2 million, the second highest auction price for an auto by the house.        



On June 9, 2017, Adam West died in Los Angeles, California, after a battle with leukemia. He was 88 years old.   

photographer unknown



At 9pm on Thursday, June 16th, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck joined special 'bat-guests' on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall to light the Bat-Signal in tribute to West's portrayal of millionaire and secret crime fighter Bruce Wayne.   


photo by Chris Pizzello



vinyl LP, side 2
photo by Styrous®

Batman TV soundtrack
vinyl LP label, side 2
photo by Styrous®


Tracklist:

Side 1:

A1 - Batman Theme, written by Neal Hefti.
   
A2 - Batman Riddles The Riddler! - Or - (Hi Diddle Riddle), Voice Actor [The Riddler] – Frank Gorshin    
   
A3 - Batus! -A-Go! Go! - Or - (I Shouldn't Wish To Attract Attention)   

A4 - Two Perfectly Ordinary People - Or - (!!!)   

A5 - Holy-Hole-In-The-Doughnut - Or - (Robin, You've Done It Again!)
   
A6 - Batman Pows The Penguin - Or - (Aha, My Fine-Feathered Finks!), Voice Actor [The Penguin] – Burgess Meredith

Side 2:
   
B1 - To The Batmobile!

B2 - Batman Blues

B3 - Holy Flypaper

B4 - Batman Thaws Mr. Freeze - Or - (That's The Way The Ice-Cube Crumbles!), Voice Actor [Mr. Freeze] – George Sanders

B5 - Gotham City

B6 - Zelda Tempts Batman - Or - (Must He Go It Alone????), Voice Actor [Eivol Ekdol] – Jack Kruschen, Voice Actor [Zelda] – Anne Baxter

   
Credits:

    Conductor, Written-By, Composed By – Nelson Riddle
    Narrator [Uncredited], Liner Notes, Executive Producer – William Dozier
    Producer – Bernie Wayne
    Voice Actor [Batman] – Adam West (5) (tracks: A2 to B1,B4, B6)
    Voice Actor [Robin] – Burt Ward (tracks: A2, A4 to B1, B3)

Nelson Riddle ‎– Batman (Exclusive Original Television Soundtrack Album)
Label: 20th Century Fox Records ‎– TFS 4180
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo
Country: US
Released: 1966
Genre: Jazz, Rock, Non-Music, Stage & Screen
Style: Surf, Soundtrack, Dialogue, Rock & Roll, Easy Listening, Lounge

           
            
        
Net links:     
           
Lyle Waggoner & Peter Deyell Batman audition
Adam West website     
USA Today interview:   
    Why Adam West will always be the true Batman Forever 
USA Today ~ LA Bat-Signal tribute to Adam West  
Variety obit            
Hollywood Reporter obit        
LA Times obit           
NPR obit           
BBC obit           
NBC obit             
The Guardian obit                         

Batman on YouTube:                
         
        Batman Theme         
        Batman Riddles The Riddler!       
        Batus! A-Go! Go!      
        Holy-Hole-In-The-Doughnut or (Robin, You've Done It Again!)
       The Batusi
        To The Batmobile!
        Batman Blues
        Holy Flypaper
        Gotham City      


       
      
Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz ranked Batman as the 82nd greatest American television show of all time.             
       


"To the Batmobile!" 
                      ~ Batman

    
            
Styrous® ~ Saturday, June 10, 2017 
              










2 comments:

  1. Huge and interesting information. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, Ana. We need heroes in our lives.

    ReplyDelete

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