Frank Gorshin, who starred as the Riddler in the TV show “Batman,” died Tuesday in Burbank, Calif., of complications from lung cancer, emphysema and pneumonia. He was 72.
An expert impressionist, Gorshin had a long career in television, features and on stage, but is best known for his role on the 1960s series as Batman’s green-suited nemesis. The role netted him an Emmy nom in 1966.
“Batman” star Adam West said, “He made an indelible impression as the Riddler. He was a fine impressionist as well.”
Gorshin recently starred as George Burns in the national tour of “Say Goodnight Gracie.” For the show’s Broadway debut, he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and won the Outer Critics Circle Award in 2002.
Born in Pittsburgh, Gorshin started in showbiz at 17, doing impressions of James Cagney and Cary Grant and performing at a nightclub where Alan King was headlining. After serving as an entertainer during the Korean War, he appeared in films including “The Proud and the Profane,” “Bells are Ringing,” “Where the Boys Are” and “Ring of Fire.”
He was a regular on soap “The Edge of Night” and guested on dozens of TV shows including “Hawaii Five-O,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Murder, She Wrote.” He received another Emmy nom for his 1969 guest appearance as Commander Bele in “Star Trek.”
Gorshin made his Broadway debut in 1970 starring in “Jimmy,” based on the life of New York mayor Jimmy Walker. He starred in touring companies with shows including “What Makes Sammy Run,” “Guys and Dolls” and, most recently, “The Sunshine Boys.”
He also appeared in features “12 Monkeys,” “Twilight of the Ice Nymphs,” and Christopher Coppola’s upcoming “The Creature of the Sunny Side Up Trailer Park.”
His final performance will be broadcast tonight on “CSI.” He completed voice work on indie animated pic “Firedog” before he died.
Gorshin is survived by his wife, Christina, and a son.