For this week's Friday Feature I thought outside the box and picked my favourite under loved entertainer Frank Gorshin: actor, comedian and singer. Frank is probably best known as an impressionist and the Riddler from the 1960s Batman series but before, during and after this role he also sang...and was damned good at it.
<geek moment> It would not be exaggerating to say if it wasn't for Frank Gorshin the Riddler (how we know him today...bar New 52 Riddler) would not exist. For instance he gave Riddler his trademark giggle (inspired by Tommy Udo). More importantly design-wise Frank saw in the character a dignity which could never be fully expressed when he pranced around in a green body stocking. Frank persuaded the producers to allow him to wear a suit and bowler hat to symbolise this dignity. Not only did this give subsequent writers a reason to write Riddler with an emphasis on charm, ego and self-respect but a sharp green suit and bowler hat became his iconic, signature costume. </geek moment>
Where will I have heard him before?
Frank has acted on screen over 137 times so I'm not going to list them all! He made multiple appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and Tonight Starring Steve Allen, was the black and white racist alien on Star Trek, appeared in many feature films and as well as being Riddler was also sometimes the voice of Professor Hugo Strange in animated Batman series! He performed on stage in plays and also musicals. He also appeared on EPs and albums including 'That's The Trouble with Love / You Went Right on Dancing', 'Never Let Her Go', 'Free', 'Turn Around, Look at Me', 'The Riddler' and George and Ira Gershwin's 'Girl Crazy' where he performs a version of But Not For Me.
Featured Song: That's The Trouble with Love
Where can I hear more?
There is only one CD / mp3 album easily available with Frank on - 'Girl Crazy' (1990 recording) where he appears as Gieber Goldfarb. If you're not into classic musicals go YouTube surfing and you'll find Frank performing everything from 1960s pop to jazz...'dialectic jazz' (such as this example of pre-Riddler charm-fail from the film Where the Boys Are):
Basil: Like athletes however we sometimes become too finely trained and we need to re-establish social contact with our public. ((to Melanie)) Date me tonight Baby Ruth!
Basil: ((to Merritt)) Date me tonight Big Girl!
Merritt: I got a date.
((Basil turns to Angie but can't quite bring himself to ask her.))
Angie: ...Well let's not be insulting!
Basil: ...Date me tonight Short One.
Angie: ((forgets she's angry)) What time?!
Next week: We will resume usual service with Swim Deep.