Frank Gorshin (1933-2005), US actor and comedian, in costume in a publicity portrait issued for the US television series, 'Batman', USA, circa 1967. The series, featuring DC Comics characters, starred Gorshin as 'The Riddler'. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Why John Astin Replaced Frank Gorshin As The 1966 Batman Series' Riddler
William Dozier’s colorful and whimsical 1966 TV adaptation of “Batman” was a brilliant take on the Dynamic Duo, thanks to Adam West and Burt Ward’s portrayals of the superheroes. Arguably, the most appealing aspect of the show was the extensive cast of actors who brought Batman’s villains to life, including comedy genius Frank Gorshin as the Riddler.
While Gorshin took on the role for five episodes and the 1966 film, the actor wouldn’t return for the 2nd season as he wanted a higher salary. Gorshin’s agent asked that the actor be paid double per episode; Dozier refused, saying that the overall exposure from the show, which could potentially lead to additional acting opportunities, should be reward enough.
Gorshin stepped down from the role, leaving it open for “The Addams Family” star John Astin to fill the part. Although his Riddler didn’t have the same animated personality of the original actor, Astin brought an intense, weird sensuality to the role. Dozier eventually relented to Gorshin’s demands, and the actor returned for one final episode in the 3rd season.