Burgess Meredith Poster

Trivia (29)

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 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.

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

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

In 1960, he received a special Tony Award, along with James Thurber, for "A Thurber Carnival". He was also nominated for a 1974 Tony Award as best director (dramatic) for Ulysses in "Nighttown".

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.

He 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.

Once narrated a Gaelic Christmas Carol in English for The Chieftains on their CD "The Bells of Dublin".

Relied on cue cards during the filming of Grumpier Old Men (1995), contributed from 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, Meredith 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.

Loved to cook and was a noted connoisseur of fine wine and good cuisine.

Served in the United States 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.

Was friends with French avant-garde composer Edgard Varese (1883-1965) who 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.

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

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

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

Was good friends with Adam West.

In March 1937 movie industry Trade Papers it was announced that Burgess Meredith had been signed for a leading role in the movie "Stage Door" (RKO Radio, 1937). He ultimately did not appear in the movie.