Rewind Back in Time

For the love and appreciation of the Classic TV shows, music, movies, pop culture, history, etc. of the past few decades (mainly the 50's, 60's, 70's & 80's).

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

'Riddler' actor Frank Gorshin dies


Actor and master impressionist Frank Gorshin has died at the age of 71 or 72, depending what source you read. Some say he was born on April 15, 1933 and some say April 5, 1934. He was best known for his maniacally menacing turn as the Riddler on the 1960s TV series "Batman".

The veteran entertainer, diagnosed with lung cancer several years ago while starring in a one-man Broadway show as comic legend George Burns, died on Tuesday at a hospital in Burbank, California, his agent and longtime friend Fred Wostbrock told Reuters.

Gorshin also had been suffering from emphysema and pneumonia, Wostbrock said.

His wife of 48 years, Christina, was with him at the end, the agent said.

Ironically, Gorshin's death came two days before CBS was set to broadcast what became his final performance, a guest appearance on the season finale of the hit show "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."

Gorshin, a Pittsburgh native, got his start in television and film playing bad guys during the 1950s and '60s. But he soon gained attention as a gifted impressionist, doing comic imitations of such stars as Kirk Douglas, Marlon Brando and Burt Lancaster on the nightclub and TV variety show circuit.

One of his first big appearances, on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964, happened to coincide with the Beatles' famed first performance on that program.

But Gorshin's biggest break came in 1966 when he was cast in the recurring role of the Riddler, the cackling, fiendish arch enemy of Batman on the ABC series based on the popular comic book hero.

Gorshin made 12 appearances as the Riddler on "Batman," earning an Emmy nomination for his work, and donned his green question mark-patterned suit again for a big-screen movie based on the series.

He also is remembered by "Star Trek" fans for his memorable guest performance on that show as Commissioner Bele, a half-black, half-white alien who appeared in a favorite episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," a parable on race relations.

Much later in his career, Gorshin portrayed the late George Burns in the Tony-nominated Broadway show "Say Goodnight, Gracie." source: abcnews.go.com

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