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Ralph Meeker
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    (November 21, 1920-August 5, 1988)
    Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Birth name was Ralph Rathgeber
    Appeared in the films 'Four in a Jeep' (1951), 'The Naked Spur' (1953), 'Kiss Me Deadly' (1955), 'Big House, U.S.A.' (1955), 'Paths of Glory' (1957), 'The Dirty Dozen' (1967), 'The Detective' (1968), 'I Walk the Line' (1970), 'Brannigan' (1975), 'The Food of the Gods' (1976), 'Winter Kills' (1979) and 'Without Warning' (1980)
    Appeared on Broadway in 'Strange Fruit' (1945), 'A Streetcar Named Desire' (1947), 'Mister Robert' (1948), 'Picnic' (1953) and 'Rhinoceros' (1961)
    He turned down the film version of 'Picnic' (1955) because he did not want to sign a long-term contract with Columbia Pictures, only to never again be offered the lead in a picture by a major studio.
    He was typecast as tough guys.
    He starred in 'Town of the Times,' a Defense Department propaganda film encouraging people to build fallout shelters (1963).
    He was cast as Bugs Moran in 'The St. Valentine's Day Massacre' (1967), reportedly because he looked like the gangster.
    During World War II, he served with the Navy until he suffered a neck injury in a shipboard accident, then entertained troops with the USO.
    He received the Theater World Award for most promising personalty (1948) and the New York Critics Circle Award for best actor (1953).
    He appeared in four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including the premiere.
    His portrayal of Mike Hammer in 'Kiss Me Deadly' influenced Quentin Tarantino to create Bruce Willis' character Butch in 'Pulp Fiction.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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