FRIDAY FLASH FACT – The Inspiration for the Kingpin

Kingpin Amazing Spider Man 51
The Kingpin, from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #51

Created by writer Stan Lee and artist John Romita, Sr., Marvel Comics villain Wilson Fisk, the “Kingpin of Crime”, was introduced to readers in Amazing Spider-Man #50 (July 1967).  Since then, the character has become a popular villain, challenging Spider-Man, Daredevil, and The Punisher over the years.  The villain’s appearance was inspired by a real-life actor.

According to author John Wells in American Comic Book Chronicles:  1965 – 1969:  “Artist John Romita, Sr. modeled the Kingpin on oversized actor Robert Middleton.  Romita gave the the Kingpin a white suit, a cigarette holder and a walking stick.”

As an actor, Middleton was noted for his girth and thick eyebrows, two traits that he shares with the Kingpin character.  Middleton died in 1977.

Robert Middleton
Robert Middleton

The images above are the property of their respective owner(s), and are presented for educational purposes only under the fair use doctrine of the copyright laws of the United States of America.



5 thoughts on “FRIDAY FLASH FACT – The Inspiration for the Kingpin”

  1. It’s interesting that Fisk started out more comedic, then evolved to a really dark & nasty character. Frank Miller said that he might as well have been called Fatman because Spider-Man just bounced off his belly for entire fight scenes. It makes me wonder if Robert Middleton was a comedian.

    1. Middleton played a variety of roles on both film and television, including comedic roles. He played Jackie Gleason’s boss on THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW, so Romita may have been going for a little comedy in his design when he chose Middleton as his model.

      Here’s an interview with Middleton:

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