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."