If you were to ask someone who is only familiar with Batman from the sixties show who Batman’s greatest enemy is, they’d probably say the Riddler, because he had so many appearances and Frank Gorshin’s excellent character work made such an impression.
Recently came across this photo in the archives from Sports Illustrated and the Associated Press. The caption reads:
“Boston Celtics coach Arnold “Red” Auerbach poses with “Batman” villians the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), Cat Woman (Lee Meriwether), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith) and the Joker (Cesar Romero) prior to Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Los Angeles on April 26, 1966. The Lakers would win the game but lose the series two days later in Boston, giving Auerbach his 9th NBA Championship and making him a bigger villian in Los Angeles than any “Batman” character. (AP)”
The costume of The Riddler, portrayed by Frank Gorshin.
In the comic books of the time, the Riddler was a much less popular villain, with only a small number of appearances under his belt. However, in the Batman TV series, they used the Riddler as the villain for the debut episode, portrayed by iconic impressionist and actor Frank Gorshin.
Back then, the Riddler’s outfit was a green leotard with a purple domino mask. Frank Gorshin did not like that costume, and he didn’t like wearing it, so he suggested a much more dignified costume - a green question mark patterned suit with a bowler hat. Gorshin designed the suit himself, and it was the costume he wore in his very first appearance on the show, in the very first episode, where he immediately charmed viewers with what would become his most famous role. Although he would switch back and forth between the suit and the leotard throughout the series, the suit was so popular that the Batman comics adopted the look, and it soon became the character’s definitive costume. In addition, it was Gorshin’s portrayal of the Riddler that catapulted him to supervillain stardom as the Batman villain mainstay he is today.
Since Batman and Gorshin’s suit, the Riddler has been interpreted and used for many different shows, movies, and comics, and both costumes have been utilized. The leotard and the suit were both featured in Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the character in Batman Forever, and though the suit was used in Batman: The Animated Series, they switched to the leotard in The New Batman Adventures. Though the leotard has largely fallen out of favor due to its inherent campiness, the acknowledgement of the Riddler’s two costumes is an excellent nod to the character’s Silver Age history as well as Frank Gorshin’s creative influence on the character, the comics, and the costume.