72 (passed away May. 17th, 2005)
Apr. 5th, 1933
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Frank Gorshin's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Frank Gorshin was born on April 5, 1933, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father was a railroad worker and his mother 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 (I). At 17 he won a local talent contest. The prize was a one-week engagement at Jackie Heller's Carousel night club, where 'Alan King (I) was headlining. It was Frank's first paid job as an entertainer and launched his show biz career. Frank attended Carnegie-Mellon Tech School of Drama and did plays and performed in night clubs in Pittsburgh in his spare time.
In 1953, at age 19, he entered the US Army. Frank served two years in Special Services as an entertainer. 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 TV dramas followed. In 1957, while visiting his folks in Pittsburgh, his agent phoned him to rush back to Hollywood for a screen test for Run Silent Run Deep (1958). For some odd reason, instead of catching a plane, Frank decided to drive his car to L.A. 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 L.A. 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 (I)' 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 TV, Frank appeared on "The Steve Allen Show" (1956) and had a dozen guest shots on "Toast of the Town" (1948)(aka "The Ed Sullivan Show"). 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 (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 in the "Black Scorpion" (2001) TV series and in Corman's "The Phantom Eye" (1999). Frank has appeared in over 70 movies and made over 40 guest appearances in TV series.
- Was the only member of the cast of _"Batman" (1966)_ (qv) to receive an Emmy nomination.
- Has a grandson, Brandon.
- His manic portrayal of The Riddler in _"Batman" (1966)_ (qv) on TV was directly responsible for turning the character in the comics from a minor villain into one of Batman's major recurring enemies.
- Brother of Dottie Roland of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- He died just four days before the first appearance of The Riddler (voiced by 'Robert Englund' (qv)) in the animated series _"The Batman" (2004)_ (qv).
- His last job before his death was a guest appearance on the fifth season finale ("Grave Danger," directed by 'Quentin Tarantino' (qv)) of _"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (2000)_ (qv). He died two days before the episode actually aired. In an ironic note, the famous impressionist's final role was to portray himself.
- Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 189. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
- Considered one of the top impressionists in Hollywood.
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