may know him best as The Riddler on the 60s' series Batman.
What you may not realize is that the role garnered him an
Emmy nomination. And why not? Watch any episode featuring
Gorshin (for one arc John Astin replaced him), and notice
that he is the only actor trying to build a serious character.
brilliance at the role may have inadvertently ruined the
Batman franchise decades later. Certainly, Jim Carrey aped
Gorshin to great success in Batman Forever (perhaps
also inspiring Tommy Lee Jones' occasional bizarre impersonation
of Cesar Romero) , leading Joel Schumacher to conclude that
the audience wanted camp. The director didn't understand
that Gorshin wasn't camp.
Adam West's commentary for the film version of Batman:
The Movie, he points out how focused Gorshin always
was. Burt Ward studies a scene and notices that Gorshin
is always doing something, always in character, while the
other villains preen and try to find a piece of scenery
as many pieces of our readership together as possible, note
his stirring performance in the classic Star Trek
episode, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," as an half-white
half-black alien. He received a second Emmy nomination for
Gorshin had talent far beyond genre concerns. For many years
he worked a stand-up nightclub act that many have said was
one of the tops in the business. Sammy Davis, Jr. claimed
that Gorshin taught him how to do impressions that went
way beyond simple shtick. In fact, the impressionist's big
break came when he did his act on The Ed Sullivan Show;
that may be forgotten because some band called The Beatles
also played that night.
was so good at inhabiting the skin of other actors that two
years ago he had a successful one-man Broadway show, Say
Goodnight Gracie, recreating the life of George Burns.
He did it without prosthetics and only a little make-up. For
film, he did don prosthetics to be Burns in a still unreleased
movie, Angels with Angles.
connection with Batman had recently been rekindled, as Gorshin
voiced Hugo Strange for an episode of the new KidsWB! Series
The Batman. Like a lot of actors with cult followings,
he had also found some success working on computer games,
voicing multiple characters in the popular Diablo
series. If you want to find him in a more serious role,
you could do far worse than renting Terry Gilliam's brilliant
12 Monkeys, in which Gorshin played a small but
interesting role as Bruce Willis' doctor.