Not long after Adam West died on June 9, a reader emailed The News Tribune asking about the iconic Batman actors’ days at the University of Puget Sound.
Quick! To the archives! West, in deed, attended UPS for the fall semester in 1949. He was 20 but he soon left Tacoma for Honolulu according to a paragraph buried deep in a 1995 article in The News Tribune.
In 2013, the Caped Crusader acknowledged his UPS-ties via Twitter, but information is scarce regarding this period of his life.
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Hoping for a few more details, we fired up the Bat Signal and the dynamic duo of Shirley Skeel and Sarah Stall responded. Skeel and Stall work at UPS and set about scouring the records.
Skeel, the school’s spokeswoman, said West transferred to UPS after three years at Whitman in Walla Walla. (Although, it seems, he’d return to Whitman, where he’s listed as a 1951 graduate.) West was born in 1928 in Walla Walla where his dad was a wheat farmer and his mom was a concert pianist. As a kid, West discovered a suitcase filled with comics on his parents’ farm and took a liking to Batman, he told Whitman’s alumni magazine in 2006.
West was a literature major and minored in psychology.
He’d not yet changed his name, so West enrolled at UPS as William West Anderson. A search of the 1949 and ‘50 yearbooks turned up no pictures of West, Skeel said.
Skeel didn’t have much luck with inquiries to older staff, either, but did find an old handwritten record in the alumni office.
It read, in part, “William Anderson attended the University of Puget Sound in 1949-50 for one semester, the fall term. He hailed from Waitsburg, Washington, and had attended Whitman, ... .While our records do not show to which school Anderson went when he left Puget Sound, general information indicates that he later left Stanford University to become a television announcer in Sacramento.”
A recent Los Angeles Times article, said West did post-graduate work in communications at Sacramento and his time in Sacramento was at a radio station.
West moved from Hawaii to Hollywood in 1959 where he changed his name and soon landed roles in TV and film. He was cast as Batman 1966 and starred as the character in 120 episodes and a movie. Forever typecast, West embraced his spot in pop culture later in life lending his voice to several animated versions of the character including on a episode of “The Simpsons.” He played the role more than 170 times, he said during a ceremony for the unveiling of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.
West was 88 when he died on June 9 after a short battle with leukemia. A tribute to West was staged Thursday night in Los Angeles when the mayor and police chief projected a bat signal on the exterior of the city hall building.