89 (passed away Sep. 9th, 1997)
Nov. 16th, 1907
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
5' 5 1/2"
Burgess Meredith's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
One of the truly great and gifted performers of the century who often suffered lesser roles, Meredith was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1907 and educated in Amherst College in Massachusetts before joining Eva Le Gallienne's stage company in New York City in 1933. He bcame a favorite of dramatist Maxwell Anderson (I), premiering on film in the playwright's Winterset (1936). Served in the Air Force in WWII. He continued in a variety of dramatic and comedic roles until being named an unfriendly witness by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the early 1950s, whereupon studio work disappeared. His career picked up again, especially with television roles, in the 1960s, although younger audiences know him best for either the Rocky (1976) or Grumpy Old Men (1993) films. Meredith also did a large amount of commercial work, serving as the voice for Skippy Peanut Butter and United Air Lines, among others. He was also an ardent environmentalist who believed pollution one of the greatest tragedies of the time, and an opponent of the Vietnam War.
- On the _"Batman" (1966)_ (qv) TV series, developed his grunting Penguin laugh out of necessity. Meredith had given up smoking some twenty-odd years earlier, but his character was required to smoke with a cigarette holder. The smoke would get caught in his throat and he would start coughing. Rather than constantly ruin takes in this matter, he developed the laugh to cover it up. "Actually, it was a pretty funny noise for a penguin to make," said Meredith. "I sounded more like a duck." Needless to say, Meredith gave up smoking again immediately after the series ended.
- Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 406-407. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
- Father of two (with fourth wife Kaja Sundsten): son Jonathon (musician) and daughter Tala (painter)
- He was fascinated by the subject of non-human intelligence, particularly dolphins. He once believed that a dolphin somehow called to him for help in the middle of the night while he was staying at a friend's home on the beach. He ran out and found the dolphin, caught in a net under a dock down the beach, although there was no way he should have been able to know it was there. He released it, saving its life. He believed it had made some sort of connection with him, perhaps telepathic, to call for help.
- Because of his very liberal political views, he collided with Senator 'Joseph McCarthy (II)' (qv) and was blacklisted from films in the late 1950s. Meredith, one might say, got revenge on McCarthy by portraying Joseph Welch, the man who humiliated McCarthy on national television, in _'Tail Gunner Joe (1977) (TV)_'.
- Once narrated a Gaelic Christmas Carol in English for The Chieftains on their "The Bells of Dublin" CD.
- In 1960, received a special Tony Award, along with 'James Thurber' (qv), for A Thurber Carnival. He was also nominated for a 1974 Tony Award as best director (dramatic) for Ulysses in Nighttown.
- Was the second choice for the Penguin role in _"Batman" (1966)_ (qv) . Producers had originally wanted 'Spencer Tracy' (qv) in the role, but Tracy wouldn't sign unless his character was allowed to kill Batman. Obviously, they did not want to kill the main character, so the role went to Meredith.