Actor Frank Gorshin, expert impressionist known best for his role as the Riddler on the '60s Batman series, died last evening in Burbank, reports the Associated Press. He was 72.
I grew up watching old tapes of Batman, and remember how Gorshin's manic performance as the Riddler crackled against the deadpan Adam West and over-earnest Burt Ward (as the caped crusader and Robin). He was Jim Carrey before Jim Carrey was Jim Carrey. Gorshin did plenty of B-list movies, some more mainstream (like 12 Monkeys), some TV (his final performance will air tomorrow on CSI), and proved a success on Broadway with his embodiment of George Burns in Say Goodnight, Gracie a few years ago.
He also did a little movie called Manna from Heaven in Buffalo in the spring of 2001. I was an extra, and sat opposite him in Shea's Performing Arts Center for a very long day of shooting. He was lively, a born agitator, but not impatient with the disorganization of the shoot. For the climactic scene, Gorshin danced onstage at Shea's with Shirley Jones. He played a cantankerous poop named Ed. It was a fine performance in a sub-par movie, which I guess was the story of his life.