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|Also Known As:||William Rukard Hurd Hatfield||Died:||December 25, 1998|
|Born:||December 7, 1917||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||New York City, New York, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor|
An extremely handsome leading man, Hurd Hatfield rose to fame when eccentric director Albert Lewin tapped him to play the title role in "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945), based on the Oscar Wilde novel about a dandy who retains his youth while his portrait reflects the aging process. The actor had trained at England's Michael Chekhov Studio and had earned some notoriety on the Broadway stage before he was brought to Hollywood and cast in support of Katharine Hepburn and Walter Huston in "Dragon Seed" (1944). His starring role the following year divided critics, with some praising his personification of evil while others called him stiff and expressionless. In either case, Hatfield had the kind of role that should have propelled him to stardom, but somehow, his career foundered. He acquitted himself well as Judith Anderson's rebellious son in "The Diary of a Chambermaid" (1946) but was virtually overshadowed as the chaplain advising Ingrid Bergman's "Joan of Arc" (1948).
Hatfield spent much of the 1950s on stage, making the occasional film appearance (e.g., "The Left-Handed Gun" 1958). In 1961, he was memorable in the small but pivotal role of Pontius Pilate in George Stevens' biblical epic "King of Kings". During the early 60s, Hatfield also appeared in several "Hallmark Hall of Fame" productions, earning an Emmy nomination as Rothschild in "The Invincible Mr. Disraeli" (NBC, 1963). He lent the proper air of sangfroid to his portrayal of Paul Bern opposite Carol Lynley as "Harlow" (1965) and was also quite good in an extended cameo as a sex deviant suspected of being "The Boston Strangler" (1968).
While his work since the 70s has been sporadic, Hatfield has remained busy. He offered a fine portrait of a thinly-veiled Maxwell Perkins in the 1979 CBS TV-movie "You Can't Go Home Again" and returned to the big screen as Ahimelech in the biblical "King David" (1985). He followed with a turn as the hospitalized grandfather of the trio of sisters in "Crimes of the Heart" (1986) and in support of Paulina Porizkova and Tom Selleck in "Her Alibi" (1989), both directed by Bruce Beresford. The still handsome actor also appeared with "Dorian Gray" co-star Angela Lansbury on her series "Murder, She Wrote" and continued to make public appearances and act on stage into the 1990s.
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