Q: I know your parents were divorced, but did they get to see your success as Batman?
A: My father did, yes and my stepmom. My dad was a farmer, a very good one and kind of a Gary Cooper-type, but he was always behind me whatever I wanted to do. They never prevented me or held me back. All I can say is they were understanding, they were kind and they loved the progress I made. And I didn’t have to borrow too much money (laughs).
Q: You have the leading man looks. Did you see yourself as the next Gary Cooper or Cary Grant when you started out?
A: I guess so, because that’s what they told me when I was under contract at Warner (Bros). I did “The Detectives” with Robert Taylor and I did a lot of Westerns, but that was kind of the way I was headed. Then, along came “Batman.” and everything changed. My career, the way it was going, was in a sense interrupted in a very dramatic way.
Q: Because you were typecast?
A: Yeah, because our classic “Batman” became so immensely successful that really the dinosaurs in Hollywood couldn’t think of me as anything but Batman.
Q: Do you think that has changed? If you were to do it today, do you think you would have less trouble moving on from that character?
A:Definitely, because people know what I do. I have done so much other work, and the younger crowd knows that.
Q: Yes, you do the voice over for the mayor, Adam West, on “Family Guy,” basically making fun of yourself.
A: I think I’ve always had that kind of self-assessment that what I do isn’t really that important. When “Family Guy” came along, I said yes. I knew Seth (McFarland) had written the pilot for me, and I welcomed the chance to create a character with my name that was making fun of myself … to use my quirkier aspects and some of my more absurd thinking in the character. Yes, it’s worked. I don’t mind making fun of myself. I think more people should have that kind of sense of humor.
Q: That attitude must have made it easier for you take the criticism. You have to have strong self-esteem to be in your business.
A: You know about that stuff. When I was coming up, I immediately went under long-term contract at Warner. When I left Warner, it was the same thing that you mentioned. It was really tough, I mean, ups and downs and all around. Just to hang in there and have persistence and keep pursuing your goal, it was tough. I got rejected. I got turned down. I went to dozens of auditions and walked out with nothing.
Q: At what point did you stop taking the critics seriously?
A: I think it was mostly after “Batman.” They had been pretty good to me. Then after “Batman,” it got relegated to words of convenience, like … “It was lucky” or “It was camp.” But than there were other writers and books that analyzed it much better than I could. All I did was go into the studio and try to bring something fresh with my concept of the character.
Q: On a personal level, did playing Batman improve your social life?
A: There was a period during “Batman” where I wasn’t married. After “Batman,” I married my current wife, who is great. All I can say is when you’re a rock star, things happen (laughing). Batman would never talk about kissing (and telling).
Q: So you are hosting the best of the 1960s songs. Do you have a favorite or a song that was the soundtrack to a great moment in your life?
A: Interesting. I love jazz and I like any music that is really good - “California Dreaming,” for example. I really like that stuff. “We’ll go walking in the park, talking in the dark”… Songs like that stay with you. I recently did a rap that Kanye West did. My cousin, Kanye (laughing). It was called “West on West.” It’s in a new show. You’d like it.
Q: Last question: Do you own a bat suit, and do people ask you to put it on?
A: Do you want to buy an old cape? (Laughing.) I have some things. As a matter of fact, I have all 120 of my original scripts with my own notes and so on. I just had an offer: $1 million for the scripts. Isn’t that incredible!
I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Believe me. I really am.