|Rocky: Legends (2004)||(Mickey Goldmill)|
|Ripper (1996)||(Hamilton & Covington Wofford)|
|Rocky (2002)||(Mickey Goldmill)|
Oliver Burgess Meredith was born in Lakewood, Ohio, November 16, 1907. He published his autobiography, So Far, So Good, in 1994. About his upbringings he wrote, "All my life, to this day, the memory of my childhood remains grim and incoherent. If I close my eyes and think back, I see little except violence and fear." His father drank heavily; his mother lived in despair; the parents quarreled constantly. A fine boy soprano voice was his ticket to escape this unpleasant home. He won competitions and a full room and board scholarship to the St. John Choir in New York City. He never went home again.
After he encountered difficulty in college, Meredith tried a variety of jobs but told a reporter, "I was no good at anything except the stage." Then in 1933 he was accepted into Eva LeGallienne's company in New York, and a series of stage appearances soon gave him his break into both stage and screen with a starring role in Maxwell Anderson's play Winterset.
Between 1935 and 1948, Meredith was married and divorced three times while appearing in around 20 films and serving in the Air Force during World War II. He was briefly married to Paulette Goddard in the 1940s. In 1950 he took his fourth wife, Swedish ballerina Kaja Sundsten, to whom he remained married until his death.
In the early 1950s Meredith was one of the victims of the McCarthy "Blacklist." There is a conspicuous gap in his filmography between 1949 and 1957. Beginning with the 1960s his film and TV output was extraordinary, including well-known roles as the Penguin in Batman and as Stallone's coach in the Rocky movies. He also played a memorable role in Clash of the Titans and won an Emmy in 1977 for Tailgunner Joe. Meredith made his final feature film appearance playing crusty Grandpa Gustafson in Grumpier Old Men (1995), the sequel to Grumpy Old Men (1993) in which he also appeared. He also did voiceover work for innumerable commercials, notably Volkswagen. In 1996, he played a role in the CD-rom video game Ripper.
He was called "an ardent environmentalist and proponent of causes," and was said to be "famous for his tempestuous personality."
Burgess Meredith died of melanoma (skin cancer) in September 9, 1997 at the age of 89.
Last updated: Sep 29, 2004