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People Top 5
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- June 06, 2005
- Vol. 63
- No. 22
Frank Gorshin: 1933-2005
The Man of a Hundred Faces Became Famous for Just One: Batman's the Riddler
For Gorshin, a former five-pack-a-day smoker who died the next day at age 72 with Christina, his wife of 48 years, at his side, being known as the Riddler was "kind of a love-hate thing," says West. The role enabled the Pittsburgh-born character actor to show off his other talent—as a rubber-faced impressionist who uncannily channeled Kirk Douglas, James Cagney, Cary Grant and other Hollywood icons. In the '60s, "he was the first impressionist to become a [Las Vegas] headliner," says rival Rich Little. But, "he'd say, I'm a serious actor' "—as he proved in an Emmy-nominated performance as an alien torn by racial prejudice on Star Trek and as George Burns in an acclaimed one-man stage show that ended in April. "He said to me, 'I could play Burns till the day I died,' " recalls Little. "Which is what he [almost] did."
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