Frank Gorshin Poster


Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (20) | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 5 April 1933Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of Death 17 May 2005Burbank, California, USA  (lung cancer, emphysema and pneumonia)
Nickname Mr. Versatile
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Frank John Gorshin Jr. was born on April 5, 1933 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father, Frank John Sr., was a railroad worker and his mother, Frances, was a seamstress. While in high school, Frank worked as an usher at the Sheridan Square Theatre and began doing impressions of some of his screen idols: Al Jolson, James Cagney, Cary Grant and Edward G. Robinson. At age 17, he won a local talent contest. The prize was a one-week engagement at Jackie Heller's Carousel nightclub, where Alan King was headlining. It was Frank's first paid job as an entertainer and launched his show business career. Frank attended Carnegie-Mellon Tech School of Drama and did plays and performed in nightclubs in Pittsburgh in his spare time.

In 1953, at age 19, he was drafted into the United States Army and was posted in Germany. Frank served for two years as an entertainer attached to Special Services. In the Army, Frank met Maurice Bergman, who would introduce Frank to a Hollywood agent when his hitch with Uncle Sam was up. Frank quickly landed a role in The Proud and Profane (1956) and other roles in television dramas followed. In 1957, while visiting his folks in Pittsburgh, his agent phoned him to rush back to Hollywood for an audition for Run Silent Run Deep (1958). For some odd reason, instead of catching a plane, Frank decided to drive his car to Los Angeles. Driving 39 consecutive hours, he fell asleep at the wheel, crashed, suffered a fractured skull and woke up in the hospital four days later. To add insult to injury, an Los Angeles newspaper reported he was killed, and the plum movie role of Officer Ruby went to Don Rickles.

Frank appeared in a number of lovable B-movies for American-International Pictures: Hot Rod Girl (1956) and Dragstrip Girl (1957), and everybody's favorite, Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957). Frank finally got a substantial role in the A-movie Bells Are Ringing (1960) with Dean Martin and Judy Holliday. He did a thinly-disguised Marlon Brando impression. Frank also appeared in Hollywood nightclubs including the Purple Onion. He also did Las Vegas engagements, opening for Bobby Darin at The Flamingo. On television, Frank appeared on The Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1956) and had a dozen guest shots on The Ed Sullivan Show (1948). In 1966, Frank gave his breakout performance, performing what has become his best-known role: The Riddler on Batman (1966) for which he received an Emmy nomination. He also played the Riddler in the movie Batman: The Movie (1966) based on the television series. "I could feel the impact overnight", Frank recalled later. Because of his nationwide recognition, he was given headliner status in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, Sahara and Aladdin Hotels. He received more good reviews for his thought-provoking performance as Commissioner Bele in the 1969 Star Trek (1966) episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", for which he received another Emmy nomination.

In 1970, Frank made his Broadway debut as the star of "Jimmy", for which he got rave reviews. He also starred in many touring company productions such as "Promises, Promises", "Peter Pan", "Prisoner of Second Street" and "Guys and Dolls". In the 1980s, Frank served as Honorary Chairman, Entertainment Division, for the American Heart Association. Perhaps recalling his early AIP films, Frank has worked recently with the legendary Roger Corman, appearing as Clockwise on the television series Black Scorpion (2001) and on Corman's The Phantom Eye (1999). He had appeared in over 70 movies and made over 40 guest appearances in television series. Frank Gorshin died at age 72 of lung cancer, emphysema and pneumonia in Burbank, California on May 17, 2005.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: kdhaisch@aol.com

Spouse (1)

Chris Gorshin (8 April 1957 - 17 May 2005) (his death) (1 child)

Trivia (20)

Considered one of the top impressionists in Hollywood.
His manic portrayal of the Riddler on the television series Batman (1966) was directly responsible for turning the character in the comics from a minor villain into one of Batman's major recurring enemies.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 189. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Was the only cast member of the television series Batman (1966) to receive an Emmy Award nomination.
Is the oldest of three children of Frank John Sr. and Frances Gorshin.
His father was a railroad worker and his mother was a seamstress.
Father of Mitchell Gorshin and grandfather of Brandon Gorshin.
Was one of Ed Sullivan's guests on the famous February 9, 1964 show that featured the American debut of The Beatles.
His last job before his death was a guest appearance on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Grave Danger: Part 1 (2005), the first half of the series' fifth season finale, directed by Quentin Tarantino. He died two days before the episode actually aired. In an ironic note, the famous impressionist's final role was to portray himself.
He died just four days before the first appearance of the Riddler (voiced by Robert Englund) on the animated series The Batman (2004).
His signature challenge line on the television series Batman (1966), "Riddle me this, Batman!" became a catch-phrase at that time.
Auditioned for the role of Cookie in the musical comedy G.I. Blues (1960), which went to Robert Ivers.
For decades, Gorshin called the celebrity-studded town of Westport, CT, home.
Following his death, he was interred at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Pittsburgh, PA.
Best known by the public for his role as the Riddler on the television series Batman (1966).
Attended and graduated from Peabody High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Attended the Carnegie-Mellon Tech School of Drama (now Carnegie-Mellon University).
Served for two years as an entertainer with Special Services of the United States Army.
He was a heavy smoker up until his death.
Was replaced for one two-part episode of Batman (1966) as the Riddler by John Astin.

Personal Quotes (3)

I do not do hundreds of impressions. My entire repertoire of impressions numbers less than 50. I never set out to do an impression of a person. However, when something a star does suddenly sparks my imagination, I find myself doing an impression of him--first for my amusement, later for my repertoire.
[on playing the Riddler on Batman (1966)] When I was first approached to play the Riddler, I thought it was a joke. Then I discovered the show had a good script and agreed to do the role. Now I am in love with the character. I developed the Riddler's fiendish laugh at Hollywood parties. I listened to myself laugh and discovered that the funniest jokes brought out the high-pitched giggle I use on the show. With further study, I came to realize that it wasn't so much how I laughed as what I laughed at that created the sense of menace.
[on working with Lynda Carter on Wonder Woman (1975)] I met Lynda years before she did "Wonder Woman", in Chicago. I forget the name of the club. At that time she was working as a singer. She was a good-looking lady and sang well. And I never saw her after that until I did that "Wonder Woman" episode. She remembered me. I played the Toymaker, but I can't remember anything else of any significance that happened during the shooting.

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