by Thomas ODonnell
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The Penguin fancies himself as a gentlemen thief, known for his obsession with birds and has an array of specialized umbrellas. Born Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, the Penguin was bullied as a child for his awkward appearance. His mother owned pet birds that Cobblepot lavishes with attention, and served as his only friends growing up. His love for birds would eventually lead him to obtaining an Ornithology major in college. He is an outcast in his high society family and their rejection drives him to become a criminal. The Penguin pursues his criminal career with class. He prefers formal wear such as a top hat, monocle, and tuxedo while he steals.



According to Kane the character was inspired from the then advertising mascot of “Kool” cigarettes- a penguin with a top hat and cane. Finger thought the image of high-society gentlemen in tuxedos was reminiscent of emperor penguins.

Kool Penguin

Kool Penguin


He first appeared in Gotham City as a skilled thief, sneaking a priceless painting out of a museum by hiding the rolled-up canvas in the handle of his umbrella. The Penguin used the stolen painting to gain access to a local mob, impressed by his abilities he was allowed to join them. With the Penguins help they unleashed a crime spree across Gotham City, but the Penguin and the mob’s boss had a falling out and The Penguin shot him with his 45. caliber umbrella gun, thus becoming the new boss.

Penguin detective comics

Penguin detective comics

Penguin knew he would have to eliminate Batman and Robin, so he framed Batman for a jewel heist. Batman with the aid of Robin cleared his name and subdued the mob, but Penguin got away and would return to menace Gotham City time after time.

The Penguin was an opportunist and would prey on his own kind. One scheme involved turning in criminals for reward money and then busting them out of jail and hiring them into his gang. In another the Penguin relocates to Florida where he sets up a legal gambling operation with Jim Crow, Buzzard Benny and Canary. They rig the games so the patrons would win big, After cashing in they would follow them home and rob them of their winnings. Although Batman and Robin took them down, the Penguin eluded capture. In one of his more ruthless schemes, the Penguin set himself up as an underworld adviser, planning fool-proof crimes for other criminals. Upon their successful robberies, the Penguin would then murder the crooks and take their stolen loot. Batman posed as “Bad News” Brewster, a rival criminal organizer. Although the Penguin saw through this disguise, Batman and Robin finally succeeded in capturing the Penguin.

The Penguin appeared in various movies, television shows, cartoons and video games:

Burgess Meredith: Penguin “Batman” “66”

Burgess Meredith

Burgess Meredith

Danny DeVito: Penguin, “Batman Returns”

Robin Lord Taylor: upcoming “Gotham”

Ted Knight:(voice) Penguin, “Adventures of Batman” “68”

Paul Williams:(voice) Penguin, “Batman:TAS”

Tom Kenny:(voice) Penguin, “Batman: Brave and the Bold”



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Source: DC Wiki, Bill Finger Appreciation Group

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