Tony Guadagnino is a marketing consultant. Located in New Jersey, his clients are based across the country, focusing on social media to build their presence on the internet. He studied creative writing in college and is currently working his first novel on the subject of bullying. He lives with his partner Mark.
Adam West …. TV’s Batman (and arguably the best actor to ever wear that costume) … has passed away at the age of 88 after a brief battle with leukemia.
Adam West portrayed the superhero that was on our TV sets during our childhood. I remember watching the cult classic at 4pm every afternoon, waiting to see if the villain were to be one of the classic characters: the Joker (my favorite), the Penguin, Catwoman, the Riddler; or one of the other criminals invented for the cult classic. The sets were simplistic; the props were hilarious; the fight scenes were hysterical, and the range of fun and laughs were off the charts.
As some of you know, I attend Autograph Shows, the opportunity to meet the celebrities we watched growing up. Adam and other cast members were regulars on the circuit. Who knew that the actors I watched as a kid would someday be available for me to meet as an adult. If I could go back in time to tell “Tony in the 1970s” that someday, you’ll meet these celebrities, the young Tony would have probably started writing speeches to tell each one of them what they meant to me.
For those who do not know about Autograph Shows, I’ll give you a brief description: stars from our childhood come out to meet fans, and for a small fee, you meet them, get an autograph, take a photo, and talk to them. Most of the stars were delightful to meet. At my very first show, I met Lee Meriwether (movie Catwoman). I spent over ten minutes talking to her about Batman, Barnaby Jones, her Match Game appearances. It was a great experience to begin my hobby.
Julie Newmar (the original Catwoman) loved each fan to approach her; she purred for each person, and shared very entertaining stories. Frank Gorshin (Riddler) loved every moment with every fan. He was very down to earth and had no pompous attitude and would gladly repeat the Riddler laugh for you. Yvonne Craig (Batgirl) and Burt Ward (Robin) were equally joyful to meet their fans. Sadly, Caesar Romero (Joker) and Burgess Meredith (Penguin) had both passed before I attended any of these shows.
I know people say that you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, and I’ll try not to do that. However, to be honest, while Adam West attended these shows, he had no interest in meeting fans. I believe that he his motivation was the money he could make. When I met him 2010, he was charging an astronomical amount of money for an autograph ($60.00) from his fans. In addition, every autograph was personalized, making sure they were not re-sold on the secondary market. I remember standing behind a young man who was telling him all about how much Adam was his idol, his mentor, and how grateful he was to finally meet Batman. Adam looked at him, gave him his expensive autograph, and said, “Next.” If you wanted to take a photo with him, it would cost you even more — $100. (Hence, I have no photo with him. I’m not paying so much for just a photograph.)
A friend of mine (who has given me permission to tell his story, but to protect his identity, I will call him “Butch”) had a disenchanted experience as well. He attended an autograph show back in the 1990s, long before I started attending. Back then, people paid an entrance fee to the convention and all autographs were free. Butch waited over 2 hours in line to meet three from Batman: Julie, Burt, and Adam. After meeting a congenial Julie and a respectful Burt, Butch met Adam. Adam signed three items for Butch then responded to him by saying “That’s $90.” Butch explained that there were no advertisements explaining that he was charging a fee. Butch wasn’t prepared to pay and showed Adam his wallet only had $24 inside. Instead
of respectfully asking for the money, or respecting that there were no posted signs about his fee, Adam stuck his fingers into the wallet, took all of his money, then said “Get the hell out of here!” (For those of you who think Adam had a right to do that … how would you feel if a stranger stuck his fingers into your wallet or purse and robbed your money?)
I do not know specifically why he would attend the shows if it weren’t just for the money. After all, he was still working (Mayor West of Family Guy). He wasn’t broke (his net worth was $6 Million). If you don’t want to meet your fans, then don’t do the show. And if you’re participating, you’re an actor — act for your fans!
Maybe I burst your bubble about the TV Icon. Everyone has to remember that the persona you see on television is not the same as real life. I can go on about other celebrities whom I have had bad experiences (like one of the Bradys), but we’ll discuss that another time.
R.I.P. Adam “Batman” West.