DC Database
DC Database

The Penguin was the criminal alias of Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, an arch-criminal hailing from Gotham City who was a constant foe of Batman and Robin.

Criminal Career

Fancying himself an "aristocrat of crookery,"[1] the Penguin often took pride in opposing the forces of law and order--most of all Batman and Robin. Several times during his life, the Penguin went even further in perverting the law, pretending to be a reformed citizen and disguising his criminal enterprises as law-abiding businesses.

"Partnership" with Batman

Ironically, one of the Penguin's most ingenious plots came about when the Penguin was unable to think up a new crime--a great distress to him, as he was soon due to be released from prison. Soon, however, he found a solution to his dilemma: tricking Batman into planning his next heist. Thus, shortly after his parole, the Penguin opened an umbrella shop and had his men distribute free umbrellas around Gotham. At the Penguin's command, these umbrellas would spin into a frenzy and create small explosions, sowing chaos across the city. This chaos soon drew attention from Batman and Robin, who eventually reasoned that the misbehaving umbrellas were clues hinting at the details of the Penguin's next heist. The Penguin, though publicly maintaining that he was a reformed citizen, soon orchestrated another bizarre "clue," launching a massive umbrella into the street. Attached to this giant umbrella was a colorful "Batbrella" dedicated to Batman, which the Caped Crusader took to the Batcave for analysis.

In truth, however, there was no pre-planned crime behind the umbrellas; instead, the Penguin expected Batman's keen mind to deduce a meaning from his meaningless clues and thus create the blueprint to a crime. The Batbrella, which secretly contained a listening device, would then relay Batman's exact words to the Penguin. Despite the ingenuity of this idea, it was not foolproof; Batman initially failed to deduce anything from the Batbrella, and instead visited the Penguin's shop in his civilian identity of Bruce Wayne, intending to plant a listening device of his own. The shop's anti-burglar system foiled Wayne's efforts, and the Penguin, not recognizing Wayne, declared his newest "customer" to be a corporate spy and ordered the man killed.

Fortunately for all parties, Wayne managed to escape the shop unharmed, and soon returned to the Batcave to re-analyze the Batbrella. Eventually, the Caped Crusader concluded that the Penguin's "clues" signified an attempt to kidnap actress Dawn Robbins. Thanks to the Batbrella, the Penguin heard Batman detail exactly how he expected the kidnapping to be executed, as well as how it could be foiled. With this information, the Penguin and his men successfully kidnapped Robbins, easily outwitting Batman and Robin in the process. After the kidnapping, the Penguin worked out a large ransom with Robbins's agents, to be delivered at a neutral ground: Wayne Manor.

To the Penguin's glee, the microphone inside the Batbrella continued to supply him with information about the Dynamic Duo's plans: namely, that Batman and Robin were planning to ambush him at Wayne Manor, intending to hide in the suits of armor that normally stood inside the mansion's foyer. On the day of the exchange, the Penguin arrived at Wayne Manor, sprayed the two suits of armor with knockout gas, and departed with the ransom. Unbeknownst to him, however, Batman and Robin had discovered his microphone shortly after Robbins's kidnapping; their talk of ambush had been a feint, and the armor had contained dummies. The real Dynamic Duo soon followed the Penguin back to his hideout, beat him (and his gang) into submission, and returned him to prison.

Penguin Protective Agency, Inc.

After serving another long stretch in the penitentiary, the Penguin found himself paroled once more. Again, the arch-criminal pretended to be reformed, this time selling himself as a professional crime-fighter. To this end, the Penguin hired several of his own men to commit crimes around Gotham City--crimes that he would then heroically "foil" in front of witnesses. This charade won the Penguin the confidence of many citizens, including socialite Sophia Starr, who became smitten with him. Batman and Robin, however, remained skeptical of the Penguin's supposed reformation. When Starr openly hired the Penguin to protect her jewels, the lawmen quickly concluded that he actually intended to rob Starr.

In order to thwart the Penguin, Batman planned to swap Starr's jewels with fakes--a plan that the Penguin already suspected, and confirmed when he found Alfred trying to plant a listening device on him. Afterward, the Penguin turned the tables on Batman and Robin, and caught the heroes just as they were opening Starr's safe to swap the jewels. As a result, Batman and Robin were framed as criminals; all of Gotham was soon turned against the duo, and even Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara were forced to declare the Dynamic Duo to be outlaws. Undaunted, Batman and Robin continued to investigate the Penguin, driving the supposedly reformed criminal to more direct measures; when the duo trailed him to a fair, the arch-criminal had them knocked out and strung up behind the targets of a shooting gallery. This done, he invited Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara to take aim, giving both men guns that had been secretly outfitted with live ammunition.

Though Batman and Robin were unable to make contact with the unwitting policemen, they nevertheless managed to outsmart and escape the Penguin's trap unharmed. Shortly afterward, however, they were, to the Penguin's delight, apparently gunned down during a police chase. The Penguin took this opportunity to repossess (and redecorate) the Batmobile, and initiate his real plan: proposing marriage to Starr, so that he could steal all of the presents that Starr's wealthy friends and relatives were sure to send to the wedding.

The wedding and the subsequent theft both went as planned, and the Penguin and his men soon fled the altar in the Batmobile, having stuffed the car's trunk with their ill-gotten gains. An unexpected snag, however, soon appeared: Batman and Robin were still alive, having falsified their deaths with the help of Gordon and O'Hara. The heroes soon pursued the shocked Penguin on the Bat-Cycle, leading to a lengthy chase on the outskirts of Gotham. Eventually, Batman and Robin brought the Batmobile to a halt via remote control, leaving the arch-criminal trapped. The Penguin was then apprehended, and the Dynamic Duo's names were cleared.



  • "Senseless" Umbrellas: Umbrellas that spun wildly and created small explosions upon receiving an electronic signal from the Penguin. Handed out around Gotham for free as part of the Penguin's "senseless" crimes, which sought to create umbrella-related chaos around Gotham without the expected follow-up robberies.
  • Monster Umbrella: An umbrella the size of a small building, launched from a special pad on the roof of the Penguin's "legitimate" umbrella shop. Had the Batbrella attached to its handle.
  • Batbrella: A colorful but otherwise ordinary-looking umbrella with a silver plaque on its handle. The handle secretly contained a tiny microphone, with which the Penguin listened in on Batman's deductions.
  • Knockout Umbrella: An umbrella that sprayed knockout gas from its tip.
  • Penguin Magnet: A powerful electromagnet that attracted the metal tools in the Batman and Robin's utility belts, effectively gluing the Dynamic Duo to the wall that it was attached to.
  • Bulletproof Umbrella: An umbrella that formed a bulletproof shield when expanded. Handle also contained an extendable metal hook.
  • Dry Ice Umbrella: An umbrella that emitted dry ice fumes to dispel steam and smoke.
  • De-Magnetizing Umbrella: An umbrella that, according to the Penguin, contained a "high-powered de-magnetizer coil" which could repair malfunctioning electronics; its handle also contained a "secret radio detector" that sounded in the presence of any listening devices.
  • "Emergency" Umbrellas: Umbrellas that spun around and spewed confetti upon receiving a signal from the Penguin's main umbrella.


  • Penguin Line: A steel cable with a grappling hook attached to one end, fired with a special catapult. Meant to create a zip-line between two buildings, with a set of giant umbrellas hanging from the cable for riders to hang on to.
  • Batmobile:[2][3] For a short time, the Penguin briefly possessed the Batmobile, which he renamed the "Birdmobile," and accordingly redecorated.
  • Penguin-Sub


  • Penguin Gas, whose chemical composition was unknown but which, presumably, combined an anesthetic with a central-nervous-system depressant.
  • Cement-Filled Umbrella: An umbrella made extremely heavy due to being filled with cement; when thrown, can knock out a grown man in one hit.
  • Umbrella Guns: Umbrellas that could act as both air-soft guns and real firearms, capable of firing both pellets and live ammunition.

Behind the Scenes

The Penguin was portrayed by Burgess Meredith, who was perhaps best known before this for his various roles on the original version of The Twilight Zone, most famously as Henry Bemis in "Time Enough At Last." Prior to Burgess, the producers of Batman had offered actor Spencer Tracy the role of the Penguin. Tracy allegedly stated that he would agree to the role on the condition that his character would be allowed to kill Batman in the show's final episode; when the show's producers refused, Tracy passed up the part.[citation needed]

According to the notes of series producer William Dozier, by the time the first of the Penguin episodes - "Fine Feathered Finks"/"The Penguin's A Jinx" - had been written, the part of the Penguin had been designated to actor Mickey Rooney. Rooney's other projects at the time, however, led to scheduling conflicts that ultimately resulted in Meredith getting the role.[citation needed] In later years, Dozier would state that Meredith's Penguin was his favorite of the show's villains.[citation needed]

Over the run of the show, Meredith would personally invent many new characteristics for the Penguin. The character's "waugh waugh" laugh, for instance, was invented by Meredith himself to cover up the cough that smoking the character's trademark cigarettes gave him. (In reality, Meredith had stopped smoking decades prior.) Meredith also gave the character a "waddle" style of walking, which he stated had been inspired by Charlie Chaplin's famed "Tramp" character.[citation needed]

On his role as the Penguin, Meredith himself once told journalist James H. Burns for Starlog Magazine:[4]

Quote1.png I did Batman for two reasons, one of which was salary. The other was that, after its first few episodes, Batman became the in-thing to do. Everybody including Frank Sinatra would either play a villain or appear as himself in that cameo showcase where a celebrity would poke his head through the window of a building that Batman and Robin were climbing. I even remember Otto Preminger saying to me, 'My God, my son won't speak to me unless I get a job on Batman.{'} Eventually, he got in! Actually, we didn't get as much money from the show as you might think, although we were paid decent money for the feature film version. The main impetus to continue appearing on Batman--beyond the desire to get some T.V. work--was that it was fashionable. Quote2.png
Burgess Meredith


Burgess Meredith's performance as the Penguin on the 1966 Batman was the first depiction of the character outside of comics, and was incredibly well-received during the show's original run. According to one account, this particular incarnation of the Penguin was so popular with audiences that the producers of Batman made sure to keep on hand at least one script featuring the Penguin at all times, just in case a clear spot came up in Meredith's schedule.[citation needed]

In addition, many of the quirks that Meredith invented for this particular incarnation of Penguin would come to be identified with the character in general. The character's "waugh waugh" laugh, as well as his waddling gait, would be incorporated into future comics as well as subsequent television adaptations.[citation needed]

References in Other Media

This version of the Penguin continues to be remembered and beloved by thousands today, and as such, has been referenced in several other works:

  • Shortly after he had filmed his final episode on Batman, Burgess Meredith "reprised" his role as the Penguin on The Monkees, briefly appearing as one of the nightclub guests in the episode "The Monkees Blow Their Minds."
  • The Simpsons episode "The Falcon and the D'ohman" featured a brief appearance from the Penguin, who is shown as one of the many opponents in Wayne Slater's combat training. Here, the Penguin is seen accompanied by two henchmen in bowler hats and T-shirts printed with their names--an explicit reference to Meredith's Penguin.


  • A figure of Burgess Meredith's portrayal of the Penguin has been confirmed to be part of Mattel's upcoming series of action figures based off of the 1966 Batman series.[5]
  • The Penguin speaks several phrases with alliteration. (Examples: "Come, my capricious cronies in criminality"; "Pre-pubescent pipsqueaks".)
  • The Penguin's trademarks included bird-oriented crimes in the comics; his Burtonverse counterpart, acted out by Dante Daniel "Danny" DeVito, continued this practice, but his television counterpart did not.
  • Except that he wore a purple (rather than black) hat and a purple (rather than white) bow tie in character, Meredith's costume was essentially a classical black tail-suit, except that his vest (as Adam West explained to Jeff Rovin in Back To The Batcave) used actual penguin fur.
  • According to the episode "Fine Feathered Finks," the Penguin has a hideaway stationed in Alaska.
  • The Penguin appeared in nineteen episodes of Batman (in addition to the theatrical film), tying with the Joker for most commonly-appearing villain on the show.
  • Although it is assumed that the Penguin's real name was Oswald Cobblepot, as in the comic books, it was never used in the series.
  • Burgess Meredith was later offered a role in Tim Burton's Batman Returns as the Penguin's father. However, ill health (specifically, the Alzheimer's disease from which he was then suffering, complications of which eventually caused his death) dissuaded Meredith from taking the part.[citation needed]


External Links


  1. The Penguin's alternate nicknames in the DC Comics include "The Gentleman Of Crime."
  2. Batman (1966 TV Series) Episode: Not Yet, He Ain't
  3. Batman (1966 Movie)
  4. Joel Eisner quoted this in The Official Batman Batbook.
  5. https://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=43752

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Batman Villain(s)
This character, team or organization, is or was primarily an enemy of the Batman, or the Batman Family as a whole. This template will categorize articles that include it into the category "Batman Villains."

Batman Villain(s) from the 1966 series
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This character, team or organization, was primarily an enemy of the Batman in either the 1966-1968 television show, related 1966 film, tie-in comic book series or the animated movies. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Batman (1966 TV Series) Villains category."