11 acclaimed actors who played minor villains and henchmen on Batman
They may have been minor sidekicks, but the performers had Oscar-worthy chops.
Notable actors lined up to play Batman bad guys. The show may have been camp, but the casting was dead serious. Oscar winner Burgess Meredith played the Penguin. Golden Globe nominee Cesar Romero was the Joker. Heck, Frank Gorshin earned an Emmy nom for his work on Batman.
But it wasn't just the major villains with acting pedigree. The minor molls, henchmen and sidekick roles were filled with acclaimed actors. It's time to shine a spotlight on the abettors. Here are 11 lesser Batman villains played by award-worthy performers.
1. Seymour Cassel as Cancelled
In Wes Anderson's breakthrough coming-of-age movie Rushmore, Seymour Cassel played Bert Fischer, the humble barber and father of the aspirational Max. Cassel who would appear in later Anderson films The Royal Tenenbaums ("Dusty") and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou ("Esteban du Plantier"). Cassel was already a darling of arthouse cinema, dating back to his earlier days as a constant collaborator and friend of John Cassavetes. The Detroit-born actor earned an Oscar nomination for his work as "Chet" in Cassavetes' Faces (1968). That Academy Award nom came just a year after he appeared as a printing-themed henchman of Colonel Gumm in "A Piece of the Action," the epic crossover with The Green Hornet.
2. Alex Rocco as Block
Colonel Gumm had a great casting agent. Also backing up the pink-loving bad guy was "Block," played by Alex Rocco, pictured to the right of Roger C. Carmel. Later in his career, Rocco would become somewhat typecast as a Mafia guy, thanks to parts in The Godfather ("Moe Greene") and Get Shorty ("Jimmy Capp"). In 1990, he won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role in The Famous Teddy Z.
3. Jill St. John as Molly
Most people likely know Jill St. John as a Bond girl alongside Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever. At the 1964 Golden Globe Awards, the former child star earned a nomination for Best Actress - Comedy or Musical thanks to her work in the Frank Sinatra flick Come Blow Your Horn. On "Hi Diddle Riddle," she played a moll of the Riddler named, well, Molly. She disguised herself as Robin, gaining access to the Batcave! But you can probably guess how that went. Hint: Batman never loses.
4. Leslie Parrish as Glacia Glaze
The Batman casting director must have been watching that 1964 Golden Globes ceremony. Not only was St. John booked for a role, but Leslie Parrish, nominated for Most Promising Newcomer - Female, also landed a gig as a Mr. Freeze moll in "Ice Spy." As an associate producer on Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973), Parrish hired the cinematographer, who would earn an Oscar nomination, and oversaw the care of the seagulls. She later become an environmental activist.
5. Terry Moore as Venus
The 1952 drama Come Back, Little Sheba details a marriage on the rocks that turns into a tempest when a young woman, played by Terry Moore, arrives to rent a room from the couple. For her role, Moore earned an Oscar nomination. In the three-part Batman epic "The Zodiac Crimes," Moore appeared as Venus, one of the planetary-themed henchmen and moll to the Joker. (Though, eventually, the Penguin tries to woo her, too.) She has a great arc, in which she teases and tempts the Caped Crusaders, earning entry into the "groovy" Batcave.
6. Nancy Kovack as Queenie
Once a model working alongside Jackie Gleason as one of his "Glee Girls," Kovack had a wonderful run of small television roles in the late 1960s. On Batman, she was Queenie, the Joker's moll (he seemed to go through them, no?) in "The Joker Is Wild" in 1966. The following year, on Star Trek, Kovack played a femme fatale and native woman in "A Private Little War." But it was a guest spot on Mannix, in "The Girl Who Came in with the Tide," that at last earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in 1969.
7. Jack Kruschen as Eivol Ekdal
Kruschen had earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his role in The Apartment in 1960, playing the neighbor of Jack Lemmon's character. Later that decade, he turned up on Batman as Eivol Ekdol, an inventor who crafts gizmos for magicians, including the main villain, Zelda the Great.
8. Jacques Bergerac as Freddie the Fence
In 1957, Bergerac took home a Golden Globe trophy as the best "Foreign Newcomer - Male." The French actor parlayed that acclaim into a string of guest roles, including playing a fencing fence twice on Batman, including in the final episode of the series, "Minerva, Mayhem, and Millionaires." Oddly enough, not long after playing a sidekick of the evil Minerva (Zsa Zsa Gabor), who ran a beauty spa, Bergerac left his acting career behind for cosmetics. He became an executive at Revlon.
9. Michael Pate as Second Hand Three
While a henchman and character actor in the States, Michael Pate was a television legend in his native Australia. He had launched the career of Mel Gibson, directing and casting him alongside actress Piper Laurie in the 1979 film Tim. He had also produced a rich, beautiful film with his son Christopher called The Mango Tree (1977). Both films won him awards and nominations Down Under. Not to mention the fact he had been the star of a long-running Aussie cop drama called Matlock Police. (No relation to Matlock.)
10. Nobu McCarthy as Lotus
After being discovered in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of L.A., the Japanese-Canadian actress worked for decades in Hollywood, appearing in everything from Perry Mason to The Karate Kid II. On Batman, she was a sidekick of Louie the Lilac, another purple flower fanatic in "Louie's Lethal Lilac Time." She was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in 1989 for The Wash.
11. Peggy Ann Garner as Betsy Boldface
In its early days, the Oscars ceremony granted an award for outstanding child actors. Peggy Ann Garner won the award in 1946, thanks to her breakout role in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. By 1960, she already had a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As an adult, she struggled to find lead roles, but she did turn up as Betsy Boldface in "Ring Around the Riddler."
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