I used to read Batman comics in the 1960s. Coincidentally, this was also the same time as the TV show was on the air. As far as I remember, the Penguin’s real identity was never mentioned in the comics or the TV show, although in the 1966 movie, he used a joke pseudonym of P. N. Gwynn. It wasn’t until the 1992 movie Batman Returns in which Danny DeVito played the Penguin that I heard his name given as Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, and the name has been part of the Batman canon ever since. Has the Penguin’s identity only been established in the last twenty years, or was it ever mentioned pre-Batman Returns?
He was known by the Cobblepot name in the post-war lighter version of Batman. That’s post-WWII war. Those were the days when Batman was the world’s greatest detective, worked with the police, was a public hero, and went out into the daylight. I don’t know exactly when they gave him the name - not his earliest appearances, but maybe as early as the excellent newspaper strip that ran during the war - but it was to make him a more comic figure.
That’s actually my favorite period of Batman. No psychoses, no torture, and actual plots. If you want a completely different version of the character, get the collected newspaper strips, both daily and Sunday. First-rate.
The latest it could have been is 1986 since his real name was given in the Who’s Who books that came out between '84 and '87. (Penguin’s issue was cover dated July '86, so presumably came out in April or May.)
However, very little, if any, of the information in Who’s Who was original to that series, so it would have been established well before that. (He had a fairly elaborate backstory.)
You have a decent argument for the “no psychoses, no torture” part, but for “actual plots” you can’t beat modern Batman. You might not be familiar with the various media Batman stories have been told in, in exceptional manner, since the 1990s. The Batman Hush story arc is one of the best stories ever told in comics. The Batman animated series is probably the best comic book concept ever released as a weekly television series. Batman animated movies range in quality from “not bad” through “very impressive” to “outstanding.” The Dark Knight movie trilogy may be flawed in many ways, but “no actual plot” isn’t even close to one of them. The Arkham City and Arkham Asylum video games are the best video games of all time based on a comic book character, and tell very rich and satisfying stories. In short, you’re dead wrong about modern Batman having no actual plot.
I’m referring solely to the comic books. I’ll admit there have been ten thousand comics with Batman in them in recent years and I haven’t read them all. (I hate psychoses and torture and if there is anything more to the character it must have been introduced in the reboot none of which I’ve seen.) I do remember the “plot” in which Gotham City gets cut off from the mainland, and the various costumed nuts from Arkham take over the million remaining poor but decent people who wouldn’t leave and carve the city up into fiefdoms, with Batman kindly giving them three months to consolidate their empires while he’s off sulking. And all the other superheroes in the DC universe ignore the human misery and stay out because it’s Batman’s city. And then he comes back and with a plucky little band of good cops and poor but decent people takes the city back, villain by villain. After which Bruce Wayne’s money rebuilds the city.
And I also saw Dark Knight Rises. You think I didn’t make the connection? (Apparently no one else has.) I never finished reading the comic book series because the level of preposterousness got to me. I understood perfectly why the writers did it: any time you get several year’s worth of new plotlines to write you grab it. But it wasn’t anything that could seriously be called a plot. And if you call anything in DKR a plot, I can’t take your description seriously.
I second Batman: The Animated Series.
There you had Paul Williams as The Penguin.
Seriously, how can you not like this list of voices
I note the Animated series ran 92-95, so it was at the same time as the movie.
Well, it’s a convoluted, incoherent mess of a rehash, but there’s kind of a plot in there, if you squint.
Something to do with social unrest, right?
I believe that he has always been known as Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, even since his first appearance in Detective Comics#58(1941).
I’d assumed the same, but I’ve just checked and it seems not. He’s “Mr Boniface” in that first appearance.
Now, that may not be his “real” name (he does claim to have a number of aliases), but it’s at least a well-established legal identity, with a home and property and so forth.
I’ve checked a dozen or more Golden and Silver age appearances, but none of them give him any other name than “The Penguin” – which is typical of the period. I’ll keep looking.
Chapter 21 of Batman: The Sunday Classics 1943-1946 is tiled “Oswald Who?” It ran February 10 - March 10, 1946.
Last panel on first page:
His Aunt Miranda, who raised him and doesn’t know he’s a crook, is coming for a visit and he asks Batman not to send him to jail while she’s in town. Since she is innocent and an actual relative, we can presume that Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot is his real name.