Wow! Bam! Pow! Shazam!
Among Batman’s many stops around the planet in his role both as caped crusader — and without the cape — Bill Anderson, better known as Adam West, was a frequent visitor to Gearhart at the time of his greatest fame. The “Batman” TV show ran from 1966-68.
In late August 1966, shortly after release of his “Batman” feature, West arrived at the Clatsop County Airport accompanied by his children, Jonelle and Hunter, along with his brother and sister-in-law John and Carol Anderson and their two children, Winn and Peter. “The group spent Sunday and Monday visiting with Bill and John’s mother,” the Seaside Signal reported.
From Gearhart their plans were to go by chartered plane to Walla Walla, Washington, the Signal wrote in 1966. “Batman will then fly to New York City via Portland in Los Angeles, where he will make a number of personal appearances to promote his new Batman movie.”
According to the Internet Movie Database, Adam West was born William “Billy” West Anderson on Sept. 19, 1928, in Walla Walla, to parents Otto West Anderson, a farmer, and his wife, Audrey V. Speer, an opera singer. She was also known as Adele.
After a divorce Speer remarried. She took Billy and his younger brother, John, to Seattle.
At age 14, Billy attended Lakeside School, then went to Whitman College, where he got a degree in literature and psychology.
During his last year of college, he also married 17-year-old Billie Lou Yeager, the first of several marriages, before launching a career in film and show business.
In 1959 he moved to Hollywood and took the name Adam West. He appeared in the film “The Young Philadelphians,” and guest starred on television Westerns and crime dramas.
His mother, meanwhile, remarried once again and lived in Gearhart’s Ocean House on Pacific Way. Gearhart’s Jim Furnish remembered her as Adele DeSilva.
West was a constant visitor to Gearhart, Jeff Ter Har, a neighbor at the time, said.
“I was like 10 years old,” Ter Har said. “I would be home and he would be at my parents house for cocktails and all my friends would come over and see me. ‘I have Batman at my house — Bruce Wayne without the mask.’ It was pretty cool for me.”
During one visit, West joined a volleyball match between the Cannon Beach & Gearhart lifeguards at Gearhart Beach, Scott Davis said. “It was really a blast having the caped crusader supporting our efforts,” Davis said. “I remember him smiling and laughing to this day, as he described his new, larger than life role, with all the fun-filled drama, campiness, and humor for the upcoming Batman TV series.”
Jean Ter Har shared that Adam West used to like to come over and read a book in her living room to “kind of hide out for a while,” she said.
West’s family became really good friends with his parents and his family. West’s brother, John, spent “a lot of time down here too, also his wife Carol,” Ter Har said. “A lot of the kids are still in the Portland area.”
Scott Bechtolt of Astoria still cherishes memories of when Batman came to Gearhart.
“We walked down a few houses and approached a house that looked like a lighthouse without the tower or a nautical fort,” Bechtolt said. “I thought that was cool …then we knocked … and … Batman answered the door! Just like on T.V. … Ka-pow!”