Children used to ask Burgess Meredith to quack for them
Children loved The Penguin.
Most shows shy away from comedy because of an unfounded fear that comedy is a lesser medium. However, the precise reason that Batman is so good is that it leans into silliness and theatricality, giving each character and episode its own merit.
Burgess Meredith, who portrayed The Penguin, understood that the overdramatic flair of his character was where his power lay as an actor. In an interview with the Associated Press, he revealed, "Now, when someone asks for my autograph, I write 'The Penguin' and rather apologetically, I add 'Burgess Meredith.'"
Some of the fans who were most appreciative of Meredith's silliness were children, who often approached him in public. Although he portrays a villain, kids weren't at all shy about approaching Meredith. In fact, he revealed that often when children see him, they approach waddling and quacking, just like The Penguin.
Meredith stated, "When they ask me to quack and strut for them, I say, 'Not at these prices.'" He also commented on the show's resonance with the use, and said that sometimes, his contemporaries don't actually understand episodes, while, "the young children have no trouble following the plot."
So Meredith's portrayal of the villain didn't cause him to lose any fans. In fact, Meredith preferred portraying an antagonist. He explained, "I love the villains in Batman. The villains are villains because they like to be... There is no motive, they just want to be bad."