Ralph Meeker was an American film, stage, and television actor. He first rose to prominence for his roles in the Broadway productions of Mister Roberts and Picnic. In film, Meeker is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Mike Hammer in Robert Aldrich’s 1955 film noir cult classic Kiss Me Deadly.
About Ralph Meeker in brief
Ralph Meeker was an American film, stage, and television actor. He first rose to prominence for his roles in the Broadway productions of Mister Roberts and Picnic. In film, Meeker is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Mike Hammer in Robert Aldrich’s 1955 film noir cult classic Kiss Me Deadly. He also had a prolific career in television, appearing as Sergeant Steve Dekker on the series Not for Hire and in the television horror film The Night Stalker. Meeker suffered a stroke in 1980, and died eight years later of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California. He was born Ralph Rathgeber in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 21, 1920, the son of Ralph and Magnhild Senovia Haavig Meeker Rathgebers. He attended the Leelanau School in Glen Arbor Township, Michigan, and later was made a member of its hall of fame. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1942, where he majored in music. He served in the United States Navy during World War II, but was discharged after a few months with a neck injury. He played a starring role in the Swiss-made Four in a Jeep, directed by Leopold Lindtberg.
He then took over the role of Stanley Kowalski in the second year of the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan. He started appearing in June 1949, and played the role until the Broadway run ended in December and then toured on the road with it. In perhaps his most-remembered role, he played a private detective in the 1955 film Spill of the Spill, starring Mickey Spillane and Kim Holden. He later returned to films playing a cold-blooded convict in Big House, A U.S. House of Cards, and Big House A.S., starring Kim Holden and Janice Rule. In 1954 Meeker played a supporting role in William Inge’s Picnic, which was a critical and commercial success, running for 477 performances and winning the New Critic’s Circle Award for Best Play. His final film for MGM was a crime movie, Code Two, which made a small loss. He appeared in a number of TV shows like The Revlon Mirror Theater and Lux Video Theatre. He had a role in I Walk the Line and Sidney Lumet’s The Anderson Tapes.