May 19, 2005
RIP, Frank Gorshin

Frank Gorshin, best known (at least among us post-Baby Boom syndicated TV watchers) as The Riddler from Batman, has died at the age of 72.

Despite dozens of television and movie credits, Gorshin will be forever remembered for his role as the Riddler, Adam West's villainous foil in the question mark-pocked green suit and bowler hat on Batman from 1966-69.

"It really was a catalyst for me," Gorshin recalled in 2002. "I was nobody. I had done some guest shots here and there. But after I did that, I became a headliner in Vegas, so I can't put it down."

In 2002, Gorshin portrayed George Burns on Broadway in the one-man show Say Goodnight Gracie. He used only a little makeup and no prosthetics.

"I don't know how to explain it. It just comes," he said. "I wish I could say, 'This is step A, B and C.' But I can't do that. I do it, you know. The ironic thing is I've done impressions all my life I never did George Burns."

Gorshin's final performance will be broadcast on tonight's CBS-TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

There was a lot more to Gorshin's career than Batman and a guest spot on Star Trek. As usual, the best source for the real background is Mark Evanier - see here and here. Rest in peace, Frank Gorshin.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 19, 2005 to TV and movies | TrackBack

I thought it was interesting to find out Frank Gorshin was known as an impressionist before Rich Little became famous for doing it. He did cameo appearances on a regular basis on Laugh-In, where he did a great Kirk Douglas impersonation.

I think if he hadn't stood out so much in the Batman TV series that Jim Carrey's Riddler in the movie paled by comparison, he still would have been highly regarded as a character actor.

Posted by: William Hughes on May 19, 2005 11:26 AM

And don't forget his memorable (but small) role as Madeline Stowe's boss in 12 Monkeys. I recently saw a clip of his George Burns show, and his ability to transform himself (like you said, with very little making) into another person was amazing.

Posted by: norbizness on May 19, 2005 1:02 PM