Adam West may have been most famous for his legendary turn as Batman, but to some Idahoans over the years, he also was a neighbor, a collaborator and a benefactor.
The actor, who died Friday night, had strong ties to Idaho. West had homes in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, Calif., but he and his wife, Marcelle, spent most of their time at their ranch in Ketchum, where he always remained in on the Batman joke while also just being an Idahoan.
An online search of the Sun Valley directory for Adam West results in a prompt to “See Wayne, Bruce (Millionaire),” which results in “Please consult Crime Fighters in the Yellow Pages,” leading to “See Batman,” leading back to Adam West. There are not phone numbers with any of them.
West told Boise State Public Radio in December that he moved to Idaho in 1985.
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“I’d skied here for years, and I’d taken my wife and little guys here a couple of times on vacation in the summer,” he said.
The couple was charmed by the Wood River Valley and decided to make a home there.
About 10 years later, he joined a production crew south of Kuna to work on a bare-bones indie film.
“It’s hot enough to melt fillings. The equipment is all borrowed. The cast and crew are virtually volunteering,” the Statesman reported in July 1994. “And now the battery has gone dead in the donated motor home that houses actor Adam West minutes before he starts work on his scene.”
The film, “Not This Part of the World,” was written and directed by a Boise State University associate professor. The budget: $50,000.
West played a businessman trying to connect with his son as they traveled through Southwest Idaho.
“There is an opportunity for this project to float up from the mass of films that, frankly, aren’t very good,” West told the Statesman during a break in shooting. “There’s a lot of talent in Boise and the state.”
Also in the mid-1990s, West joined other Idahoans to do a public reading of the scripts for two sitcom pilots. One sitcom, “Adam and Sons,” was about an actor trying to shake being typecast as a TV superhero. Autobiographical? “Faintly,” he told the Statesman then.
That event, including a four-course dinner, was a benefit for the Idaho AIDS Foundation.
But it was far from West’s only charitable work for people in Idaho.
In 2001, West appeared on the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” game show and won $250,000 for the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund. That charity was used to receiving only $60,000 in donations a year.
He also joined in on a Make-A-Wish Foundation of Idaho event that gave Aubrey Matthews, a 6-year-old girl with optic glioma, a chance to be a superhero. With the help of Boise police, the mayor, a local production company and others, Matthews spent a day in June 2006 as a superhero named Star.
She found clues, rode in a helicopter, and rescued people and animals. She also got a phone call from Adam West.
More recently, West had shown his paintings at the Gilman Contemporary gallery in Ketchum. They were colorful portraits of villains from Batman. Before the show, West did an interview with Boise State Public Radio.
“To be 88 and still be able to click my heels, and to make people laugh ... I think that keeps one a little younger,” he told the radio station.
Click here to listen to the interview BSPR recorded with West last December