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The Penguin

Burgess Meredith as the Penguin in Batman

The waddling bird of foul play. The Penguin was so popular that the producers always had a script ready for the Burgess in case he came to town. The Penguin usually likes to pretend he has gone straight to foil our heroes.

Burgess Meredith

Date of Birth & Location: 16 November 1907 (USA).

Date of Death & Location: 9 September 1997 (USA).

Burgess : “I did Batman for two reasons, one of which was salary. The other was that, after its first few episodes, Batman became the in-thing to do. Everybody including Frank Sinatra would either play a villain or appear as himself in that cameo showcase where a celebrity would poke his head through the window of a building that Batman and Robin were climbing. I even remember Otto Preminger saying to me, “My god, My son won’t speak to me unless I get a job on Batman” Eventually, he got in ! Actually, we didn’t get as much money from the show as you might think, although we were paid decent money for the feature film version. The main impetus to continue appearing on Batman – beyond the desire to get some T.V. work – was that it was fashionable.”

Burgess Meredith as the Penguin in the TV Series "Batman". Penguin in the 1966 Batman Movie

Trivia

Developed his grunting “Penguin” laugh out of necessity. Meredith had given up smoking some twenty-odd years earlier, but his character was required to smoke with a cigarette holder. The smoke would get caught in his throat and he would start coughing. Rather than constantly ruin takes in this matter, he developed the laugh to cover it up. “Actually, it was a pretty funny noise for a penguin to make,” said Meredith. “I sounded more like a duck.” Needless to say, Meredith gave up smoking again immediately after the series ended.

Was the second choice for role. Producers had originally wanted Spencer Tracy in the role, but Tracy wouldn’t sign unless his character was allowed to kill Batman. Obviously, they did not want to kill the main character, so the role went to Meredith.

He was so popular a villain in the TV-series the producers always had a “Penguin” script ready in case Meredith would like to appear as a guest star.

Was offered the part of The Penguin’s father in Batman Returns (1992) (which eventually went to Paul Reubens), but couldn’t film it because of his delicate health.

Lairs

In order of appearance:

  • K.G Bird Umbrella’s
  • Penguin’s Perfect Security Agency
  • Abandoned building on Gotham City’s waterfront
  • Penguin Campain Headquarters
  • The Penguin’s Nest
  • Penguin Studios Inc.
  • Empty appartment next door to Barbara Gordon’s
  • Penguin Bookshop (Fleece Street)
  • Warehouse on the outskirts of Gotham

Molls, thugs and accomplices

In order of appearance:

  • Sparrow, Hawkeye and Swoop – Thugs
  • Eagle eye and Dove – Thugs
  • Finella – Moll, went straight in the end
  • Swordfish, Shark and Octopus – Thugs
  • Lulu – Penguin for Mayor supporter
  • G.O.O.N (Grand Order Of Occidental Nightowls) – Thugs
  • Chickadee – Moll
  • Matey Dee and Cordy Blue – Thugs
  • The Joker – Super villain played by Cesar Romero
  • Marsha Queen Of Diamonds – Super villainess played by Carolyn Jones
  • Lola Lasagne – Super villainess played by Ethel Merman
  • Armband and Visor – Thugs
  • Miss Clean – Moll
  • Pushbroom and Dustbag – Thugs