BATMAN VILLAINS: The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), The Riddler and the Joker in 1967.
BATMAN VILLAINS: The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), The Riddler and the Joker in 1967.

Famous Birthdays: The 'Penguin' Burgess Meredith

Burgess Meredith

16/11/1907 - 09/09/1997 (Aged 89).

"I disappear from the public eye and get rediscovered quite often".

1907: Oliver Burgess Meredith was born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. The son of Ida Beth (nee Burgess) and Dr William George Meredith, a Canadian-born physician. His mother came from a long line of Methodist revivalists, a religion to which he adhered throughout his lifetime. He was an American actor, director, producer, and writer in theatre, film, and television. Active for more than six decades, Meredith has been called "a virtuosic actor" and "one of the most accomplished actors of the century". A life member of the Actors Studio by invitation, he won several Emmys, was the first male actor to win the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor twice, and was nominated for two Academy Awards.

1929: He became a member of Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory Theatre company in New York City. Although best known to the larger world audience for his film and television work, Meredith was an influential actor and director for the stage.

1930: He made his Broadway debut as Peter in Le Gallienne's production of Romeo and Juliet.

1933: Aged 25 married Helen Derby.

1935: Aged 27 divorced Helen Derby. He garnered critical acclaim in the Broadway revival of The Barretts of Wimpole Street starring Katharine Cornell. She subsequently cast him in several of her later productions.

1936: Aged 28 married actress Margaret Perry

1937: Another Broadway role included Van van Dorn in High Tor.

1938: Aged 30 divorced actress Margaret Perry after 2 years of marriage.

1939: He established himself as a leading man in Hollywood with critically acclaimed performances as George Milton in Of Mice and Men.

1940: Starred as Liliom in Liliom.

1944: Aged 36 married actress Paulette Goddard.

1945: Starred as Ernie Pyle in The Story of G.I. Joe and the narrator of A Walk in the Sun.

1946: Christy Mahon in The Playboy of the Western World.

1949: Aged 41 divorced actress Paulette Goddard after 5 years of marriage.

1951: Aged 43 married ballerina Kaja Sundsten. His fourth marriage lasted 46 years and produced two children a son, Jonathon Meredith, now a musician and a daughter Tala Meredith, a painter.

 

Burgess Meredith from an appearance on the television program General Electric Theatre in 1954.
Burgess Meredith from an appearance on the television program General Electric Theatre in 1954.

1957: Starred as Adolphus Cusins in Major Barbara.

1966: Meredith played the Penguin in the television series Batman to 1968 and in the 1966 film based on the TV series. His role as the Penguin was so well-received, the show's writers always had a script featuring the Penguin ready whenever Meredith was available.

1975: Starred in The Day of the Locust.

1976: Best known in his later years as boxing trainer Micky Goldmill in the Rocky film series. He received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

1977: Meredith received his honorary doctorate degree from Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa.

1978: He later starred in the comedy Foul Play.

1981: He appeared in Ray Harryhausen's last stop-motion feature Clash of the Titans in a supporting role.

1985: Meredith appeared in Santa Claus: The Movie.

1983: He narrated numerous films and documentaries during his long career, including Twilight Zone The Movie.

1993: In his last years, he played Jack Lemmon's character's sex-crazed 95-year-old father in Grumpy Old Men.

1994: Meredith published his autobiography, So Far, So Good. In the book he confessed that he suffered from violent mood swings caused by cyclothymia, a form of bipolar disorder.

1995: Then two years later filming its sequel, Grumpier Old Men.

1997: He died on September 9, just two months before his 90th birthday in Malibu, California. Cause of death was Melanoma and Alzheimer's disease.

Awards:

Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (1977, 1976). Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (1976). BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (1976) and Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play (1974).

INTERESTING FACTS:

For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Meredith has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For his onstage contributions, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. Meredith has a 21-acre park named for him in Pomona, New York. He provided the funding to incorporate the village.


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