Burgess Meredith Poster

Trivia (28)

Former son-in-law of Antoinette Perry.

Was placed on the "Red Channel" list of the HUAC.

Otto Preminger was instrumental in restoring his film career.

His character, the Penguin, was so popular as a villain on the television series Batman (1966), the producers always had a Penguin script ready in case Meredith wanted to appear as a guest star.

Had two children (with fourth wife Kaja Sundsten): Jonathon Meredith (musician) and Tala Meredith (painter).

On the television series Batman (1966), he developed his grunting Penguin laugh out of necessity. Meredith had given up smoking some 20+ 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," he once said. "I sounded more like a duck." He gave up smoking again immediately after the series ended.

Suffered from melanoma and other ailments, including Alzheimer's disease, at the time of his death.

Was only 17 years older than Jack Lemmon when he played his father in Grumpy Old Men (1993).

Was the second choice for the role of the Penguin on Batman (1966). Producers had originally wanted Spencer Tracy in the role, but Tracy would not 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.

Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 406-407. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Was fascinated by the subject of non-human intelligence, particularly dolphins. He once believed that a dolphin somehow called to him for help in the middle of the night while he was staying at a friend's home on the beach. He ran out and found the dolphin, caught in a net under a dock down the beach, although there was no way he should have been able to know it was there. He released it, saving its life. He believed it had made some sort of connection with him, perhaps telepathic, to call for help.

Was offered the role of the Penguin's father in Batman Returns (1992) (which eventually went to Paul Reubens), but could not film it because of his delicate health.

Relied on cue cards during the filming of Grumpier Old Men (1995), attributed to his being in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

Despite his character dying in Rocky III (1982), he has appeared in every "Rocky" film, as either the real character, a flashback, or through archive footage.

Nephew of comedian and character actor, Jay "Handsome Danny Mann" Burgess (1856-1937).

After dropping out of Amherst College, he held down various jobs in journalism, retail, as a clerk, and as an editor. He also had a brief spell in the merchant marine and as a runner on Wall Street.

His father was a doctor, and his mother a Methodist revivalist.

Served in the US Army Air Corps during World War II and held the rank of captain by 1945.

His father, William George Meredith, was Canadian (born in Toronto, Ontario). His mother, Ida Beth (Burgess), was from Ohio.

French avant-garde composer Edgard Varèse, a friend, wrote "Dance for Burgess" for him in 1949.

He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6904 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on November 5, 1987.

Died only one day after his Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) co-star, Helen Shaw.

Played the Devil in both The Twilight Zone: Printer's Devil (1963) and Torture Garden (1967).

Revealed in 1994 that he suffered from Cyclothymia, a form of Bipolar Disorder.

In March 1937 industry trade papers announced that he would star in RKO's Stage Door (1937), but he ultimately did not appear in it.

In the 1986 book "Son of Golden Turkey Awards" by Harry Medved and Michael Medved, he won the award for "The Most Embarrasing Nude Scene in Hollywood History" for Such Good Friends (1971).

Named Best Supporting Actor by the National Board of Review for his role in Advise & Consent (1962). [1962]

Was close friends with director Otto Preminger.