Batman Birthdays: Burgess Meredith


Batman Birthdays: Burgess Meredith

We all know him. We’ve all seen his face. Whether it’s the titular squawk or the gruff, tough love encouragement of Rocky, we all remember Burgess Meredith.

Meredith was born on November 16, 1907 in Cleveland, Ohio to Dr. William George and Ida Beth Meredith and embraced the acting bug very early on. He joined Eva Le Gallienne‘s Civic Repertory Theatre company in New York City during his time at Amherst College.

He was even granted a special discharge from the military during WWII to shoot the film

The Story of G.I. Joe

. His most famous works, however, came in the 1960’s and 70’s. He was the infamous Bookworm in possibly the greatest

Twilight Zone

episode of all time, Rocky’s trainer Mickey, and of course, The Penguin in

Batman ’66


Meredith was the first onscreen Penguin and the only one until Danny Devito in

Batman Returns

and the brilliant Paul Williams in

Batman: The Animated Series

. Everyone afterward wants to pay homage to Burgess Meredith.

Here are some highlights.

Meredith was twice nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscars. One for Rocky and one for  The Day of the Locust, which landed him both Golden Globe and BAFTA nods.

In what would easily have become my proudest moment if it were me, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor  by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films in 1978, 1979, and 1982, winning the last two for the films Magic and the last stop motion FX classic Clash of the Titans.

Burgess Meredith died on September 9, 1997 in Malibu, CA from complications of both melanoma and Alzheimer’s disease. TV’s first Batman, Adam West was reported to have spoken at his funeral – which is something I wish would happen when I die.

More from Bam Smack Pow

Meredith will always be the standard by which we judge all other onscreen Penguins. And since Phillip Seymour Hoffman is dead, I doubt anyone will come close to matching his beloved status.