Biographical information from Frank's page on IMDB:
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
Most people my age remember Frank for his role as "The Riddler" on the TV series Batman. Frank only did
10 (5 two-part) episodes, but much like Paul Lynde's "Uncle Arthur"
on Bewitched, it seemed like 100
episodes. They were just so good at it.
Gorshin developed the maniacal laugh after watching the 1947 movie Kiss of Death with Richard Widmark. Widmark played the demented Tommy Udo, who pushes a wheelchair-bound old woman down the stairs.
Widmark had a crazy cackle when he did that. Frank drew on that for his role
as "The Riddler."
Adam West said, "Frank and I also share the same off-the-wall sense of humor. Once we walked into a party where clothing was unwelcome. However, after Frank and I got
comfortable amid the sea of legs and breasts, I felt a little silly so I began to do Batman.
Somewhere across the room, Frank became the Riddler, and it was so ridiculous in that setting that we
couldn't stop laughing. We had the distinction of being thrown out of our first and only Hollywood orgy."
Gorshin was paid the standard $2500.00 per Batman episode. Everyone did, Vincent Price, Talullah Bankhead, Cesar
Romero - the popularity of the guest or character didn't matter. I imagine
that's why Frank didn't
return for season 2, and John Astin took over the role.
Thankfully Frank returned for season 3.
Frank's real love was doing impressions. He was the best, even Rich
Little thought so. Michael Jackson, too. In fact, Michael
wanted Frank to teach him how to do impressions. Jackson flew Frank out to the
Neverland Ranch for 5 days, so he could school Michael in the art of
impersonation. Michael tried to be good at everything. As an
entertainer? Amazing. Impersonations? Not so much.
Frank never stopped acting, and he never stopped smoking.
Ever. Adam West said
that Frank could light a cigarette and turn it to one single ash in an unbroken
drag. While he was working, he'd smoke. He shows up in movies
and on TV, smoking. When he toured with his
show Goodnight Gracie, Frank performed his spot-on George Burns impersonation,
and smoked. Burns himself rarely smoked onstage, the cigar was usually a
prop. Not for Frank. Disclaimers were posted in theaters warning
patrons of the smoke, and
some places refused to book the show for that very reason. Frank's friend, Russ
Meyer Superstar Kitten Natividad recalls,
"On tour, if there was more than one bus, everyone wanted to be on Frank's
bus because he was so fun to be around. By the end of a tour, Frank would
be alone because no one could stand the smoke! You'd see a bus traveling
down a street with smoke pouring out of it!"
For the last 5 years of his life, he lived in the Beverly Garland Hotel in North Hollywood, cohabitating with his girlfriend
of 5 years, Haji - from Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!
According to Kitten, Frank was "all cock" and a
"Chick Magnet." He liked his women strong and was pussy whipped by
Haji. In a good way. All women liked him, and Haji could be the
jealous type. Frank presented Haji with a $12,000.00 diamond engagement
ring, and promised that they would marry in the Bahamas.
Kitten also gives us this perspective, "When he wasn't working, Frank was
just a regular guy. He loved hanging in regular bars talking with the
bartender, or with regular
non-showbiz people (as long as the bar had a patio where he could smoke).
He could make friends with anybody and everybody." "One time
Haji had to call an exterminator because she had a problem with rats in the
ceiling of her Malibu home. She and Frank were arguing at the time the Terminixguy showed up. He announced that he was there to take care of the rat
problem. Haji pointed to Frank and announced, "Good! He's right
there!" The Terminix man, Haji, and Frank became good
Kitten also shares that Frank was really a meticulous
decorator. He loved arranging the look of his place, often asking other's
their opinion about the placement of furniture or rugs. "He would do
this for hours!"
In December of 2003, the 5-pack-a-day smoker Frank was diagnosed with lung
cancer. He was given 3 months to live. Instead of packing it in, Frank
went back to work, while at the same time be treated with chemo and radiation. Haji put her Malibu home up for rent, and took care of Frank, making
sure he took his meds, sitting with him for hours while he was going through chemo. When he
was on tour, doctors would arrange treatments in advance, in the various towns Frank was
to be performing in.
At the end of April 2005, Frank finished his last tour of Say Goodnight Gracie, in Memphis. On the flight home, his breathing all but stopped. Haji called for
medical attention, and the Captain released an oxygen mask for Frank. On
that flight, Haji took what would be the last photograph ever taken of Frank
Gorshin. This photograph.
There was an ambulance waiting in Los Angeles. Frank asked one of the attendants to let him smoke a cigarette before they loaded him. Unbelievably, they did. I guess it was
just one of those
things, you know?
Screw it. May as well.
Haji contacted Frank's son, Mitchell, and he contacted Frank's wife Christina.
hadn't been with his wife, Christina, in several years. In fact, most people didn't
even know he was married. Some say that Frank was a Catholic and felt strongly about
divorce (adultery, not so much?), others say he just didn't want to go through the hassle, and have to
deal with ugly financial business. He just didn't want to be bothered.
Christina arrived at St. Joseph's hospital the next morning. She came face to face with Haji.
POW! It didn't go well. Security escorted Haji out.
See, now this is when it sucks to not be married, and a warning to get. your. sh*t. in. order.
In the hospital, Frank wouldn't sit still with all the tubes in him, so doctors
kept him medicated. Obviously he couldn't speak, but he was able to write.
Frank wrote a note giving the okay for Haji to be with him in the hospital.
It didn't look good for Frank, in fact on May 3rd, it looked like the end.
Family and friends flew in to be at his bedside. Then happily, a spark of life returned.
Frank's friend Fred Wostbrock said, "He was sitting up, he could understand his family and the doctors started giving him less medicine and they are feeding him
It didn't last. Frank succumbed at 5:30 p.m. on May 17, 2005. He was 72
Haji returns to the home she shared with Frank, at the Beverly Garland
Seconds later, wife Christine high tails it to the Garland for a massive clear out.
BAM! It hits the fan. The hair pulling begins again, the police are called. Frank never updated his
will. When he died he was still legally
married. Frank's wife got everything. Get. Your. Sh*t. In. Order.
Making your loved ones deal with that mess after you are dead... that's almost
cruel. I'm sure he didn't do it intentionally. G.Y.S.I.O.
Frank is buried in his hometown, Pittsburgh. His grave is marked with a
distinctively cool tombstone.
Trivia: Frank was on the Ed Sullivan Show when The Beatles did their first appearance.
Frank smiled when he recalled the Beatles having "foul mouths."
Frank returned to his role as The Riddler in the made for TV movie Return to
the Batcave. Produced by Gilligan's Island star Dawn Wells, and
surprisingly GOOD, Riddler hopped in the driver's seat and stole the Batmobile.
Gorshin's last TV appearance was an episode of the CBS-TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation called "Grave Danger." It aired two days after his death; the episode, which was directed by Quentin Tarantino, was dedicated to
Trivia : Haji tried to sell Frank's drawz on the
internet. I would want a pair of the Riddlers pants, deffo.
Trivia - Frank had custom plates made for his Rolls Royce.
They read STOLEN
This story was assembled with the help of Frank's friend John
Stacks. John created resin models of a lot of the Batman TV show
stars, including Frank, Adam West, Burt Ward and Yvonne Craig.
John Stacks produced Frank's official
website. Thank you so much, John. You made Frank Gorshin happen
A huge 44EEE thanks to Kitten
Natavidad for her insight into Frank's personality. It's a pleasure to