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Ralph Meeker
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Ralph Meeker

Ralph Meeker was a stage and film actor best-known for starring in the 1953 Broadway produuction of Picnic.

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.

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 1956, with William Holden and Kim Novak starring in the roles originated by Meeker and Janice Rule.

Meeker starred as Mike Hammer in the 1955 Robert Aldrich film of Mickey Spillane's Kiss Me Deadly. In 1957 he co-starred in Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory, playing one of the condemned soldiers. He guest starred as Frank Martin in the 1964 episode Swing for the Moon of ABC's drama Channing, set on a fictitious college campus and costarring Jason Evers and Henry Jones.

Meeker played George Bugs Moran in the film St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967). That same year, he appeared as Captain Stuart Kinder, the military psychologist who attempts to analyse the Dirty Dozen. He portrayed the police captain in The Anderson Tapes (1970).

He was the producer of the movie My Boys Are Good Boys (1978) and made guest appearances on numerous TV shows, including Ironside, CHiPs, Toast of the Town, Outer Limits and Studio One. He appeared in the premiere episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents with Vera Miles, Revenge (1955).


He was a graduate of the Leelanau School in Glen Arbor Township, Michigan, and a member of their Hall of Fame. Meeker married twice. His first wife was actress Salome Jens. The marriage lasted from 1964 to 1966. His second marriage was to Colleen Meeker. Major success continually eluded him. He died of a heart attack on August 5, 1988, in Woodland Hills, California.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2009.

Ralph Meeker Facts

Birth NameRalph Rathgeber
BirthdayNovember 21, 1920
BirthplaceMinneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Date of deathAugust 5, 1988 (Woodland Hills, California, USA, age 67)

Selected Filmography

Not available.