When a baby boomer met Batman

Another baby boomer childhood idol is gone: Adam West, which is a name you probably remember but even more, you probably remember who he played on television. Novelist and Los Angeles attorney Michael E. Petrie remembers well … especially since he got a refresher many years after growing up. It was The Day Batman Came To Visit.

Another iconic figure from our Boomer past has left us. Who among us did not become addicted to watching Adam West play TV’s Batman back in the 1960s. Twice a week. Same Bat time, same Bat channel. But it was as an adult that I actually got to meet the man.

Adam West

It was the mid-1980s. My house in Thousand Oaks, California, just down the street from the North Ranch Country Club, was for sale and we were holding an Open House. Dozens of potential buyers and lookie-loos came through, most of them signing the guest book located near the front door.

A tallish man dressed in white tennis togs accompanied by a short Asian woman entered and signed the book. He looked very familiar, but I could not quite place him. Then I looked at his signature in the guest book: Adam Kilroy. The name did not ring a bell.

I watched him browse through the house, opening closet doors and checking out the rooms, just like the other visitors. “It might be nice to have a house close to the club,” I heard him say to his companion. That’s when I knew; as soon as I heard him speak, it all came together.

“Oh my gosh!” I exclaimed, “You’re Batman!” It was Adam West, the iconic TV hero I had watched growing up.

“I prefer to be called Adam, not Batman,” he said, putting out his hand for me to shake.

Novelist and Los Angeles attorney Mike Petrie relaxing on a dock with his pal, Tucker.

“Adam Kilroy?” I asked, perplexed.

He chuckled. “You know that’s not my name. I wrote it just so you could say Kilroy was here.”

I did not get the joke.

“It’s an old expression,” he explained, taking a seat on the living room sofa. “Apparently before your time. People used to always write ‘Kilroy was here’.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Quite honestly, I have no idea,” he answered. “It was just something people did.”

I sat across from him in a wingback chair near the fireplace. “I watched you all the time when I was a kid,” I told him.

“I know. Everybody did,” he replied, giggling like a child himself. “I have had other roles, you know. I’ve not always been exclusively Batman.”

Actually, I didn’t know. But I nodded as if I did. Apparently unconvincingly, because he then rattled off a list of his many prior and subsequent acting credits.

He did not seem particularly eager to leave and we chatted for about thirty minutes. He told me about his time in Hollywood. He said he enjoyed playing tennis, which explained his attire, and that he’d just finished playing in a match up the street at the club.

He complimented my house, saying how lovely he thought it was. And then he made his exit. Another visitor exploring the house immediately approached me. “Was that who I think it was,” she asked.

“Yup,”I replied. “That was the one and only Batman!”

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