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Subject: Archive: Ralph Meeker, Aug. 5, 1988

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Date Posted: Sunday, August 05, 11:53:03am

Ralph Meeker, who starred on Broadway in William Inge's Pulitzer Prize-winning play ''Picnic,'' died of a heart attack yesterday at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 67 years old and lived at the hospital.

Mr. Meeker, who also appeared in many movies, achieved stardom in the Inge play in 1953 portraying Hal Carter, a braggart vagrant with a huge, lanky body, a loud mouth and an unsavory past who strolls into a sun-baked yard shared by two families without men. Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times of Mr. Meeker's performance that he ''acts from the inside out, never forgetting that the character has a validity of its own.''

Mr. Meeker was born in Minneapolis on Nov. 21, 1920, and was taken to Chicago by his family as a youngster. He attended Northwestern University, where he majored in music, but he had begun acting in school plays in his freshman year.

''The dean thought it was very impractical to be an actor,'' Mr. Meeker recalled in the 50's, ''and painted the blackest picture of the theatrical profession. He pointed at all the other actors who had gone from Northwestern to Broadway and had been failures. He did exactly the right thing.'' Replaced Marlon Brando

Mr. Meeker's first Broadway role was in ''Cyrano de Bergerac'' in 1947 with Jose Ferrer, and he also appeared with Mr. Ferrer in ''Strange Fruit.'' Mr. Meeker was given the small part of Mannion in the original Broadway production of ''Mr. Roberts'' in 1948. The next year, he replaced Marlon Brando on Broadway as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams's ''Streetcar Named Desire,'' and also did the role on tour.
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After the ''Streetcar'' tour, Mr. Meeker made his first movie, playing a small role in the 1951 film ''Teresa,'' which starred Pier Angeli and John Ericson. He also appeared that year with Viveca Lindfors in ''Four in a Jeep.''

His other Broadway appearances included ''Cloud 7'' with Martha Scott in 1958, ''Something About a Soldier'' with Sal Mineo and Kevin McCarthy in 1962, and ''Mrs. Dally'' with Arlene Francis in 1965. In 1961, he took over the role created by Eli Wallach in Eugene Ionesco's ''Rhinoceros.'' Mr. Meeker was also a member of the Lincoln Center Repertory Theater under Elia Kazan and Robert Whitehead in 1963 and 1964, and appeared under its auspices in the original production of Arthur Miller's ''After the Fall.''

His other movies include ''Glory Alley'' (1952); ''Jeopardy'' (1953); ''The Naked Spur'' (1953); ''Big House U.S.A.'' (1954); ''Kiss Me Deadly'' (1955); ''Paths of Glory'' (1958), in which he portrayed a condemned soldier; ''Something Wild'' with Carroll Baker (1962); ''The Dirty Dozen'' (1962); ''The St. Valentine's Day Massacre'' (1967); ''Gentle Giant'' (1967);; ''The Detective'' (1968); ''I Walk the Line'' (1970), and ''The Anderson Tapes'' (1971). Mr. Meeker also appeared in dramatic roles in television plays, including Ernest Hemingway's ''Fifty Grand'' on the Kraft Television Theater in 1958.

He is survived by his wife, Millicent, according to Jean Ferris, a spokesman for the hospital.

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I really liked him in noir films, particularly in the early Kubrick film"Paths of Glory"! And I know he was just an actor, but sad that his final resting place is lost in a sea of tiny markers. ...Just my opinion, but I hate the optics.Sunday, August 05, 01:05:13pm

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