If there's a silver lining to the Palpatine character's depth or lack thereof it's that the Prequels for all their flaws fleshed him out a whole lot more than the OT ever did or even intended to. In Empire
he's a towering blue hologram issuing instructions to Darth Vader. End of story. In Jedi
we finally see him in the flesh but he doesn't do a whole lot more than cackle, taunt Luke and throw Sith lightning bolts. He's creepy and effective as hell, but you don't use the OT Emperor as your basis for any sort of comprehensive bio on the guy.
Hell, he started out life as a woman in a hood with chimpanzee eyes superimposed over her darkened sockets. He's come a long way since 1980 no matter how you look at the character.