The appeal of a Batman book by a guy who still regularly appears in public in full Bat-regalia is overwhelming, particularly when in places it reads like the old TV show's dialogue: "[Julie Newmar] caused curious stirrings in my utility belt." But West, Batman's TV avatar, can also be introspective: "The time [the mid-1960s] was wrong for a sinister, film noir Batman." And sometimes, were it not for the possibility that West may soon appear at a mall opening nearby, his narrative would be sad: "I was angry and profoundly disappointed when I was not asked to reprise the role" (in Tim Burton's feature film). In short, this is an informative book about a classic bit of television history by a participant who cared and still cares about the character he portrayed. Oh, some parts seem strained or naive, but this merely makes the book more evocative of its subject. A light but interesting memoir that as pop culture history is valuable for, besides West's insights, its annotated episode guide featuring his commentary. Mike Tribby
From Kirkus Reviews
An amiably ungrandiose, entertaining memoir of TV's Batman by the Caped Crusader himself. Aided by thriller writer Rovin (co-author of The Red Arrow, 1990), West devotes the first quarter of the book to his youth in Walla Walla, Wash., his eclectic early acting career in the thespian un-center of Honolulu, and his move into Hollywood westerns, at which time he jettisoned his birth name of Billy West Anderson. Selected in 1965 to play Batman, the actor prepared by reading novels whose heroes had dual identities, such as The Scarlet Pimpernel, and by scouring 1940s ``Batman'' comic books, trying to make his character ``as plausible as a superhero can be.'' West recalls how producers saved money by using sound-effects cards--``POW''--in place of transition shots, how he improvised the ``Batusi'' into a dance craze, and how difficult it was to shed his tight-fitting outfit on the way to the ``Batroom.'' He repeats his defense of the show as hard-working farce to critics who disparaged it as camp and his response to watchdog groups who suggested the crime-fighting team was gay (``Aunt Harriet wouldn't allow it''). He also offers thumbnail sketches of the actors who played show's villains, including the tormentingly sexy Julie Newmar as Catwoman, the distinguished Cesar Romero as the Joker, and the good-natured Liberace, miscast as an evil twin. After the show went off the air in 1968, West retreated into smaller roles and ``Batman'' nostalgia. While the actor hints that his Bat-fame gained him a good deal of recreational sex, he modestly leaves out the salacious details. Of the 1989 film version starring Michael Keaton, he observes that it showed ``an emotionally scarred Batman'' and regrets he wasn't offered the role. It won't make anyone cry ``Holy Publishing Event,'' but there's good fun for Batfans. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.