Gorshin, 'The Riddler,' Dead At 72

Actor Frank Gorshin, the impressionist with 100 faces best known for his Emmy-nominated role as The Riddler on the old "Batman" television series, has died. He was 72.

Gorshin's wife of 48 years, Christina, was at his side when he died Tuesday at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, his agent and longtime friend, Fred Wostbrock, said Wednesday.

"He put up a valiant fight with lung cancer, emphysema and pneumonia," Mrs. Gorshin said in a statement.

Despite dozens of television and movie credits — he worked steadily from the mid-1950s until just before his death, with two films listed as in production now — Gorshin will be forever remembered for his role as The Riddler, Adam West's villainous foil in the question mark-pocked green suit and bowler hat on "Batman" from 1966-69.

"It really was a catalyst for me," Gorshin recalled in a 2002 Associated Press interview. "I was nobody. I had done some guest shots here and there. But after I did that, I became a headliner in Vegas, so I can't put it down."

West said the death of his longtime friend was a big loss.

"He made me laugh. He was a friend and a fascinating character and I think that's what we should remember about Frank, is he brought those character roles to life," West told "The Insider," which, like CBSNews.com, is part of Viacom.

Gorshin earned another Emmy nominations one for a guest shot on "Star Trek."

In 2002, Gorshin portrayed George Burns on Broadway in the one-man show "Say Goodnight Gracie." He used only a little makeup and no prosthetics.

"I don't know how to explain it. It just comes," he said. "I wish I could say, 'This is step A, B and C.' But I can't do that. I do it, you know. The ironic thing is I've done impressions all my life — I never did George Burns."

He also starred in the 1969 Broadway musical "Jimmy," based on the life of colorful 1920s New York mayor James J. Walker. It closed after 84 performances.

"Insider" host Pat O'Brien remembers Gorshin as one of variety show emcee Ed Sullivan's favorite stand-up comics — and one of his.

"I always thought that Frank was both weird, in that you never knew what he was going to do. He was one of those guys before shock radio, you just never knew what the guy was going to do, and that was what was great about him," O'Brien told CBS Radio News.

Gorshin's final performance will be broadcast on Thursday's CBS-TV series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."