That One Time I Met Batman

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Adam West, best known as "The Bright Knight", millionaire-philanthropist Bruce Wayne by day, and Batman in the waning hours of daylight has died. In a statement, his family said that he fought a brief, but heroic battle against Leukemia. He was 88.

He is fondly remembered by co-stars. Burt Ward said that he and West had been friends for 50 years, and, that West was the one, true Batman. Julie Newmar, Kevin Conroy, Val Kilmer, Will Arnett and Kevin Smith are just a few of the celebrities sharing tributes. Ben Affleck thanked West for "showing how it's done."

I met Mr. West briefly once. It was at the Chicago Hilton on a Sunday afternoon. He was in town for a two day convention celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Batman TV series. He was there with The Riddler, Frank Gorshin; Van Williams, who played The Green Hornet, Wende Wagner who played Lenore Case; and Werner Klemperer, Col. Klink from Hogan's Heroes - who had a Bat-climb window cameo on the show. The Black Beauty was on display there, too. No Batmobile, though.

That Sunday afternoon, only Adam West and Van Williams were on hand.

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1991 - the 25th Anniversary of the Batman '66 TV series - was a couple of years before I started a career in broadcasting. Over twenty-five years in Country radio, I've been fortunate enough to meet George Strait, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Shania Twain, Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn. In 1983, I saw Styx at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago. After the show, guitarist Tommy Shaw came out back of the theater on the street to sign autographs. He was mobbed by fans. There was a small window of opportunity where I could have jumped in, said something witty, shaken his hand and gotten an autograph myself. Instead, I handed my ticket to a friend and asked if he wouldn't mind. He didn't. That tells you what it's like to meet a celebrity.

I met Mark Waid once. He signed my issues of Kingdom Come. We chatted. At the time, he was supposed to write a Quantum Leap series for Dark Horse. That never happened. I asked him about that. He shrugged. We laughed. Right next to him was Alex Ross, fellow Chicagoan. You might have heard of him. I was in awe of him, and his work on Kingdom Come and Marvels. I think I managed to squeak, or maybe burp out a "hi" and mumble something before composing myself to ask for an autograph. I met Chris Jones and Terry Beatty. Both have been incredibly friendly and engaging with fans. So is Gordon Purcell. As a fan of Starman, Gordon and I named all the characters that had fin-head costumes. Probably the best conversation I had was with Terrance Griep, the writer on Scooby Doo. He told me the story of how he wrote a story where Scooby would be flying a plane. His editor told him that Scooby Doo flying a plane was unbelievable. Un. Be. Lievable. For. Comics. I've met both Tom Nguyen and Doug Mahnke. I interviewed Tom on radio. Doug remembered me months later when I ran into him at the Comic-Con in Chicago.

I share these memories for irony sake. Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking (rimshot), there ARE some famous and well-known people I can converse with.

Regrettably, Adam West was not one of those people. I muttered and stammered and stuttered. I think I managed to say Hi. My name's Dave. May I have your autograph? Of course! he said. At the time, I didn't think to have a camera ready. This was in those ancient, dinosaur days, when cameras were actually cameras and not built in to something called a cellular telephone.

I'm sure I am just one of a legion of fans that want to take a second to say thank you. For, y'know, pretty much... everything.

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