Why John Astin Replaced Frank Gorshin As The 1966 Batman Series’ Riddler

Gorshin knew that he was important to “Batman.” He was, after all, one of four villains asked to appear in the “Batman” feature film. According to a 2011 post on the Martin Grams Batman blog, Gorshin had switched agents early in 1966, and the new agency, William Morris, asked that Gorshin’s salary be doubled for the second season. Skipping from $2,500/episode to $5,000 was more than Dozier could handle, and he even felt a little miffed that Gorshin (or his agents) should be so demanding. Dozier write a — somewhat condescending — letter to Gorshin, saying that the actor’s overall exposure that came from playing the Riddler, and the additional acting opportunities it could potentially afford, should be reward enough. Note that $5,000 was indeed a lot of money. An acverage “Batman” episode only cost about $200,000 to make. The entire series only ran a price tag of about $3.3 million.

Gorshin’s demand for more, however, wasn’t just the actor’s ego talking. He did receive an Emmy nomination for his performance. He was a known quantity. The actor demanded more, Dozier balked, Gorshin walked. 

By the time Gorshin quit, however, the “Batman” shooting schedule was already in place. In December of 1966, a two-part, second-season episode of “Batman” that had originally been written for the Riddler had to repurposed. A very similar villain called the Puzzler was invented for the occasion, with the stalwart Maurice Evans stepping in. This would be the only time the Puzzler was to appear on the show. 

Dozier, luckily, had a recently canceled sitcom he would be able to mine for a potential replacement.

Leave a Comment