John Astin saved the day as The Riddler

What has a mustache, green underwear, and a predilection for question marks?

Holy re-casting mid-series, Batman! 

It must've been a shock to tiny Batfans in 1967 when, out of nowhere, the Riddler suddenly had a different face. That's because John Astin, the actor best known for playing Gomez Addams, stepped into the role for the first time during the show's second season. This is, of course, despite The Riddler already being the show's most prominently featured villain during its first season. 

Fans will likely better remember Frank Gorshin as The Riddler because he played the character in eight episodes. His Riddler was one of the most popular characters on the show and was a genuinely compelling foe for the Dynamic Duo. However, in '67, Gorshin's new agency, William Morris, demanded more money to let their star appear in the show. Batman producers balked, and Gorshin walked.

Enter John Astin, ironically the hero of the hour as The Riddler.

"It's just a guest shot as far as I'm concerned," Astin told The Los Angeles Times. In '67, Astin was doing what he could to distance himself from The Addams Family. At the time, Gomez Addams was, for better or for worse, the way folks most recognized Astin.

"You know, people forget that I've done Shaw, Shakespeare, and Eugene O'Neill. This is what I've been reveling in since the Addams series went off. After doing Oliver and Rattle of a Simple Man, I was asked by writer friends why not do some TV guestings. I've since done six covering a wide range of roles." 

Guest star role number seven was The Riddler. This was despite being largely unfamiliar with Batman and the Caped Crusader's rogues gallery.

"I had very little knowledge of how Gorshin played the role," Astin told the Times. "I figure the guy's got to be in love with himself — a narcissist. I play him this way. You know, striding around. Striking a few muscle poses. It was fun."

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8 Comments

Mike 8 months ago
For The Record:
Frank Gorshin appeared in four two-part episodes as the Riddler during Batman's first season.
All Batman stories were at least two-parters in the first two seasons, and that's how the books write them up.
justjeff 8 months ago
"What has a mustache, green underwear, and a predilection for question marks?"

Your Aunt Martha or a cheap lawyer!
Runeshaper 8 months ago
I never knew or don't recall that John Astin played The Riddler. He was a superb actor.
Snickers 8 months ago
I remember Astin as the mad scientist in "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes", he was funny in that movie. But of course he will always be known as Gomez Addams.
BrittReid Snickers 8 months ago
Astin was in 'The Frighteners' and a Twilight Zone episode. He has many credits and is a fine actor. He will always be Gomez.
Snickers 8 months ago
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LoveMETV22 8 months ago
Kudos to John Astin for stepping in and temporarily filling the role, as Frank Gorshin negotiated his contractual dispute with William Dozier and the Network.
cperrynaples LoveMETV22 8 months ago
Yes, and Gorshin did come back for "Ring Around The Riddler" in season 3!
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