Ralph Meeker

Ralph Meeker

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Ralph Meeker

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Ralph Meeker (November 21, 1920 – August 5, 1988) was an American stage and film actor best-known for starring in the 1953 Broadway production of Picnic, and in the 1955 film noir cult classic Kiss Me Deadly.

Career

He was born Ralph Rathgeber in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Ralph and Magnhild Senovia Haavig Meeker Rathgeber. He made his film debut in 1951 with a small role in MGM's Teresa, followed by a starring role in the Swiss-made Four in a Jeep, directed by Leopold Lindtberg. In 1953 he was cast as a misfit ex-cavalryman in the classic western "The Naked Spur" directed by Anthony Mann.

For his performance in William Inge's Picnic, Meeker was awarded the New York Critic's Circle Award in 1954. Picnic became a classic film in 1955, with William Holden and Kim Novak starring in the roles originated by Meeker and Janice Rule. According to Turner Classic Movies, Meeker turned down the lead role because he did not wish to sign a long-term contract with the production company, and he never was offered a role of similar stature again. Around the same time, Meeker was cast in several low-budget films, including Code Two (1953), co-starring Keenan Wynn, in which Meeker portrayed a brash young rookie cop in Los Angeles.

Meeker starred as private detective Mike Hammer in the 1955 Robert Aldrich film of Mickey Spillane's Kiss Me...... ...
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