11 acclaimed actors who played minor villains and henchmen on Batman

They may have been minor sidekicks, but the performers had Oscar-worthy chops.

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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.

Watch Batman on MeTV!

Saturdays at 10:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets

1. Seymour Cassel as Cancelled

 Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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

 Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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

 Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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

 Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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 became an environmental activist.

5. Terry Moore as Venus

 Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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

 Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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

 Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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

 Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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

 Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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

 Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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

 Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

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."

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

36 Comments

BenSobeleone 27 days ago
Another actor to play a henchman was Kip King. He played Nick in 2 episodes with The Joker. "The Joker Goes to School" and "He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul" Kip King is the father of Chris Kattan from Saturday Night Live and the comedy A Night at the Roxbury.
clovergirl 29 days ago
Louis Quinn, the actor who portrayed Roscoe on 77 Sunset Strip, was a henchman on Batman.
George58 30 days ago
I can think of two others you missed out on. Both were Catwoman episodes. Leslie Gore played "Pussycat" On the "That Darn Catwoman" episode & Joe Flynn played Benton Bellgoody on "The Cat's Meow" episode.
Runeshaper 30 days ago
It's cool that MeTV gives props to the henchmen. To me, they are just as important as their bosses.
It takes a special talent to hench.
Tresix 1 month ago
Some trivia notes:
1. St. John’s Molly is the only character on the show to actually die and stay dead.

2. Kovack appeared with Adam West in the Three Stooges feature “The Outlaws is Coming!” the year before “Batman” premiered.
Jon Tresix 30 days ago
Nancy Kovack also played Darrin's ex-fiancee Sheila Sommers on BEWITCHED.
djw1120 Tresix 30 days ago
That's right, she died when she fell into the Batmobile's radioactive power source.
She went in and then Batman said, "What a way to Go-Go."
MikeyD53 Jon 29 days ago
Nancy also played Darrin's client Clio Vanita in a 2-part episode. Serena had turned her into a chimp.
Mark Tresix 29 days ago
Nancy Kovack married the famous conductor Zubin Mehta. She made a few appearances under her married name, then retired.
Snickers 1 month ago
Seems everyone wanted to do a Batman episode. A lot of frontline talent taking minor roles just to be on Batman.
djw1120 Snickers 29 days ago
And what's wrong with that?
Snickers djw1120 29 days ago
There's not one thing wrong with that .Cliff Robertson asked if he could be a guest villain on Batman just because his children were sure great fans of the show. And what about the guess stars popping out of the window as batman and robin scaled the side of the building? Sammy Davis Jr. Jerry Lewis and Orson Wells just to name a few.
EricFuller 24 months ago
Terry Moore was married to Howard Hughes.
cperrynaples EricFuller 1 month ago
There are still questions about the legality of that marrage! Fun Fact: She co-starred with Jimmy Durante in The Great Rupert a film about an intelligant squirrel!
VBartilucci 24 months ago
I think Sid Haig had enough of a career to deserve a spot on this list?
Yep, he was on mulitiple times!
CalvinWBoaz 48 months ago
You forgot about Orman Alden, Al Wyatt Sr., Gil Perkins, Walter Burke, Lewis Charles, Pete Kellett, Victor French, Jock Mahoney, Al Checco, Joe E. Tara, Don "Red" Barry, Johnny Seven, Richard Bakalyan, Theodore Marcuse, Barbara Nichols, Doodles Weaver, Robert Cornthwaite, George Barrows, Dick Crockett, Jack Kelly, Roger Creed, Milton Frome, and John Hudkins.
I believe you meant Joe E. Tata, best remembered for owning the Peach Pit on Beverly Hills 90210!
Mirramanee 54 months ago
Peggy Ann Garner as Betsy Boldface looks just like the young Jamie Lee Curtis, doesn't she?
I was thinking the same thing.
Mark Mirramanee 29 days ago
Peggy Ann Garner was married at one time to Albert Salmi, who played Yadkin on Daniel Boone and Pete Ritter on Petrocelli, but was more familiar as a guest actor on countless shows.
CraigGustafson 58 months ago
What about Harvey Lembeck (Eric Von Zipper in the Beach movies, Cpl. Barbella on "The Phil Silvers Show") as Penguin henchman Eagle-Eye?
Fun Fact: His son Michael appeared on One Day At A Time and later became a TV director!
Eric Von Zipper shall return...with an army of stupids!
BrittReid 63 months ago
Loved Jill St.John as Molly. Took Batman one second to see Robin develop.
stephaniestavropoulos 64 months ago
Estelle Winwood was also good as Carolyn "Marsha Queen Of Diamonds" Jones henchwitch "Aunt Hilda."
JeffBaker 64 months ago
Nancy Kovack was in the very first episode of "Bewitched," and is married to conductor Zubin Meta. Not bad for a henchman, uh, henchperson!
Mirramanee JeffBaker 54 months ago
She was amazing as Nona in Star Trek's "A Private Little War".
cperrynaples JeffBaker 1 month ago
Yep, I believe Kovack played Darren's fiancee before Samantha!
MikeyD53 cperrynaples 29 days ago
And in a later season, Nancy played Darrin's client Clio Vanita in a 2-part episode. Serena had turned her into a chimp.
MichaelNivens 64 months ago
Jack Kruschen was also very good In the classic , McLintock !
Mirramanee MichaelNivens 54 months ago
I loved Jack Kruschen in McLintock! He was hilarious!
Mark MichaelNivens 29 days ago
Kruschen always struck me as someone who played nice guys, so I was shocked to see him as villains in things like Bat Masterson and Wanted: Dead Or Alive.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?