Burgess Meredith Biography

Theater Actor, Actor, Film Actor, Television Actor (1907–1997)
Actor Burgess Meredith appeared on stage, film and TV. Memorable roles included George in the 1939 film 'Of Mice and Men' and Mickey Goldmill in 'Rocky.'

Who Was Burgess Meredith?

Burgess Meredith was born on November 16, 1907, in Cleveland, Ohio. He held a number of odd jobs before pursuing acting. His Broadway debut was in 1933 with the show Little Ol’ Boy and he went on to play many more roles. He founded the New Stage Society and was Vice President of the Actors’ Equity. He appeared in films such as 1939’s Of Mice and Men and much later in his career, Rocky (1976)  He went on to direct films and appear in television. He died in 1997.

Prolific Acting Career

Oliver Burgess Meredith was born in Cleveland, Ohio. After holding a variety of jobs and attending college sporadically during the 1920s, Meredith became determined to break into show business. He began an unpaid apprenticeship in 1929 with Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory Company in New York City. After making his Broadway debut in 1933's Little Ol' Boy, Meredith achieved great success in 1935 as Mio in the Maxwell Anderson play Winterset. He was a founder of the New Stage Society in 1937 and served as vice president of the Actors' Equity in 1938. 

Meredith also played memorable stage roles in High Tor (1937), Liliom (1940), Playboy of the Western World (1946), and Major Barbara (1956). His notable film performances include roles in Of Mice and Men (1939), Advise and Consent (1962), The Day of the Locust (1975) and Rocky (1976). For the last two films, he received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor.

He was a character actor in television, which included playing The Penguin in the 1960s Batman series and also made appearances in The Twilight Zone. He also directed motion pictures (The Man in the Eiffel Tower, 1950) and plays including Macbeth and the Broadway production of James Baldwin's play Blues for Mr. Charlie. In the 1990s, he was noted for his role in Grumpy Old Men.


Meredith died September 9, 1997 of Alzheimer's disease and melanoma at the age of 89. He is considered "one of the most accomplished actors of the century."

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