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Adam West in Batman

Source: John Springer Collection / Getty

With all due respect to Ben Affleck, Christian Bale and Michael Keaton, Adam West is Batman.

At least West — who died Friday — is for millions who grew up with the campy Caped Crusader he played on ABC’s whirlwind Batman phenomenon in the late ‘60s.

Many baby boomers were too young to understand the tongue-in-cheek nature of the dialogue, as when a nightclub maître d’ asks: “Ringside table, Batman?” and a man wearing a cowl, cape and purple body suit responds: “No, thank you. I’ll stand at the bar. I would not wish to be conspicuous.” The absurdity of that comment flew by a child’s consciousness like a poorly aimed Batarang.

West’s bromide-dropping, milk-drinking depiction was completely at odds with the forbidding Dark Knight, a great character of comic books and and more recent films, and the TV show’s primary-color, over-the-top take is often derided by superhero purists. But he was the Batman we knew. He was ours. We all tend to bond tightly with elements of our youth, no matter how biff-bam-pow silly they may seem later through the more jaded vision of adulthood.

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source: Bill Keveney/USA TODAY

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