American actor and comedian (1933-2005). He was born in Pittsburgh to parents who were active in the city's Slovenian community, including performing in a Slovenian choral group. He spoke mostly Slovene at home and only started learning English when he started going to school

When he was 15 years old, he got a part-time job working as an usher at a movie theater, where he memorized the voices and mannerisms of the movie stars to create an impressionist act. A few years later, he entered a talent contest and won the top prize -- a one-week engagement at Carousel, a nightclub in New York City. His parents insisted he take the gig -- even though his younger brother had been hit and killed by a car just two nights before! After he graduated from high school, he attended the Carnegie Tech School of Drama in Pittsburgh and worked in local nightclubs and theaters when not in class. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1953. He served 18 months in Germany as an entertainer in Special Services

Once he was back home and working again, Gorshin started getting his first parts in TV (an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents") and film (an uncredited role in "The Proud and the Profane") in 1956. In fact, he showed up in another three movies in 1956 and eight movies or TV shows in 1957, which is a good number, even considering how much faster film and TV production was back then -- and especially considering he was seriously injured in a car accident in 1957. He'd been trying to drive straight from Pittsburgh to Hollywood for an audition and fell asleep behind the wheel. He fractured his skull and spent four days in a coma. A newspaper in L.A. reported that he'd died, and he lost the role of Petty Officer Ruby in "Run Silent, Run Deep" to Don Rickles

Gorshin was also a popular draw at nightclubs. He was the first impressionist to headline the big showrooms in Las Vegas and at New York City's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Some of his best impressions included James Cagney, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, and Marlon Brando

Gorshin was a very, very prolific performer, appearing in a huge number of movies and TV shows during his career. Some of the better known productions he was involved in include "The True Story of Jesse James," "The Delicate Delinquent," "Invasion of the Saucer Men," "The Restless Gun," "General Electric Theater," "Have Gun - Will Travel," "The Detectives," "Bells Are Ringing," "The Great Impostor," "Where the Boys Are," "The Defenders," "The George Raft Story," "The Untouchables," "Combat!," "That Darn Cat!," "Skidoo," "The Munsters," "The High Chaparral," "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Virginian," "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," "Ironside," "Hawaii Five-O," "S.W.A.T.," "Police Woman," "Rudolph's Shiny New Year," "Charlie's Angels," "Wonder Woman," "Greatest Heroes of the Bible," "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," "The Edge of Night," "Treasure Island," "The Fall Guy," "A Masterpiece of Murder," "Uphill All the Way," "Murder, She Wrote," "Midnight," "Monsters," "The Meteor Man," "Are You Afraid of the Dark?," "Hail Caesar," "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman," "12 Monkeys," "The Ren & Stimpy Show," "Johnny Bravo," "Man of the Century," "General Hospital," "The Bold and the Beautiful," "The Art of Murder," "All Shook Up," "Luck of the Draw," "Beethoven's 3rd," "Black Scorpion," and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," his last TV appearance, in an episode where he played himself. 

Gorshin also voice-acted in a few Warner Bros. animated short features in the late '90s, providing the voices of Daffy Duck and Foghorn Leghorn in "Pullet Surprise" and "Superior Duck" and Yosemite Sam in "From Hare to Eternity." And he was the voice of Marius and Lysander in "Diablo II." 

Gorshin also made performed occasionally on the stage, beginning with "What Makes Sammy Run?" in Los Angeles in 1966. He also performed in "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" in Florida in 1973, a touring production of "On the Twentieth Century" in 1986, "Ah, Wilderness!" in Kansas City in 1987, "Guys and Dolls" in Las Vegas in 1995, a tour of "The Sunshine Boys" in 2001, and as George Burns in "Say Goodnight, Gracie," a one-man show on Broadway in 2002 -- the show got a Tony nomination in 2003 for Best Play. 

Of course, most of the TV series he appeared on were just single episodes. He'd have a guest appearance, collect a paycheck, and head back home. Not a world-breaking career, and not an easy one either -- but it seems he was content with the money and accepting of the fame he'd acquired. 

And a big chunk of that fame came from two different TV programs. In the original series of "Star Trek," Gorshin played Commissioner Bele, the racist half-whiteface, half-blackface alien in the 1969 episode titled "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." Though the episode is often considered well-meaning but heavy-handed, Gorshin's furious, imperious performance made Bele one of the series' most memorable guest-characters. 

And he was most famous for playing the Riddler in the 1966 "Batman" TV series. The Riddler was actually the first villain Batman faced in the series, and he was the most frequent guest-villain in the first season. Afterwards, he asked for too much money to continue the role, so the producers replaced him with John Astin 'til Gorshin came back down on his asking price. Gorshin's Riddler was notable for being by far the most deranged and frightening villain in the series. His portrayal, particularly his tendency to flip from deadly serious to cackling lunacy, is sometimes considered to be an inspiration for later depictions of the Joker

An additional impact Gorshin had on the Riddler was his dislike of the costume. Gorshin really disliked the green and purple unitard he had to wear. It's hard to blame him -- unitards generally suck, and the mask hid his eyes, which were really vital for his performance as the character. So he asked someone to make him a green business suit and bowler hat, all covered with question marks, to wear instead. The suit looked great, and eventually was used in the comics as well. 

Gorshin continued his association with Batman and the Riddler for years to come. He was in "Batman: The Movie" in 1966, "Legends of the Superheroes," a 1979 TV special featuring various characters from DC Comics, and "Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt," a 2003 TV movie where Gorshin played himself as the Big Bad opposing the mostly hapless Adam West and Burt Ward. He also voiced Hugo Strange in the 2004 "The Batman" cartoon. 

In late April of 2005, Gorshin finished a touring performance of "Say Goodnight, Gracie" in Memphis and boarded a plane for L.A. He experienced difficulty breathing during the flight and was taken to a hospital in Burbank upon landing. He died a few weeks later from lung cancer, emphysema, and pneumonia.