Ralph Meeker


Actor
Ralph Meeker

About

Also Known As
Ralph Rathgeber
Birth Place
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Born
November 21, 1920
Died
August 05, 1988
Cause of Death
Heart Attack

Biography

Rugged, no-nonsense character actor (usually in action films) who made his screen debut in 1951; memorable as Mike Hammer in the Robert Aldrich classic, "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955)....

Family & Companions

Salome Jens
Wife
Actor. Co-starred together in the stage production of "After the Fall" in NYC; married on July 20, 1964; divorced in 1966.
Colleen Meeker
Wife
Producer.

Biography

Rugged, no-nonsense character actor (usually in action films) who made his screen debut in 1951; memorable as Mike Hammer in the Robert Aldrich classic, "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955).

Life Events

1924

At age three, moved with family to Chicago (date approximate)

1943

Professional stage debut in small role of national touring company of "The Doughgirls" in Chicago

1945

Moved to NYC

1945

Broadway debut in "Strange Fruit", directed by Jose Ferrer

1946

Served as assistant stage manager and bit player in "Cyrano de Bergerac", directed by and starring Jose Ferrer

1947

Breakthrough stage role in "Mister Roberts"; also understudied Henry Fonda in lead role

1949

Replaced Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Broadway and later toured in the role opposite Judith Evelyn as Blanche

1951

Feature film debut in "Teresa"

1953

Appeared in the Western "The Naked Spur"

1953

Returned to Broadway to star in "Picnic" by William Inge; acted opposite Janice Rule

1955

Portrayed Mike Hammer in "Kiss Me Deadly"

1955

Starred in the pre-Broadway tour of "Top Man", co-starring Lee Remick; show opened in New Haven and closed in Philadelphia

1956

Reunited with "Picnic" co-star Janice Rule in "A Woman's Devotion", helmed by actor Paul Henried

1957

Once again appeared opposite Rule in the "Playhouse 90" production of "Four Women in Black"

1958

Was in Broadway production of "Cloud 7" opposite Martha Scott

1958

Had pivotal role as one of three French soldiers sentenced to the firing squad in "Paths of Glory", directed by Stanley Kubrick

1959

Had lead role of a police detective in Hawaii in the syndicated TV series "Not for Hire"

1961

Appeared on Broadway in Ionesco's "Rhinocerous"

1961

Starred opposite Carroll Baker in "Something Wild"

1964

Played featured role in the NYC premiere of Arthur Miller's play "After the Fall"; future wife Salome Jens co-starred

1965

Final Broadway appearance, "Mrs. Dally" opposite Arlene Francis

1967

Had co-starring turn in "The Dirty Dozen"

1968

Played featured role in the NBC "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation "A Punt, a Pass, and a Prayer"

1970

Was featured in the ABC movie "Lost Flight"

1971

Acted in "The Anderson Tapes"

1972

Co-starred in the ABC movie "The Night Stalker"

1977

Last stage appearances in the L.A. production of David Rabe's "Streamers"

1978

Made last TV appearance in an episode of "The Eddie Capra Mysteries" (NBC)

1980

Final film, "Without Warning"

Photo Collections

Kiss Me Deadly - Lobby Card
Here is the Title Lobby Card from Kiss Me Deadly (1955). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Run Of The Arrow (1957) - Open, Palm Sunday The opening scene at Appomattox, 1865, as Confederate O'Meara (Rod Steiger) fires the last shot, not quite killing Yankee Ralph Meeker, leading to the credits for writer-producer-director Samuel Fuller's searing Run Of The Arrow, 1957.
Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - Why'd You Let It Die? Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker), on a tip from a building super (Silvio Minciotti), pays a visit to spacey Lily (Gaby Rodgers), sometime roommate of the murdered girl, just off Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, in Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly, 1955.
Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - He's A Bedroom Dick Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer leaves the hospital with gal-Friday Velda (Maxine Cooper), weeks after the non-accident that killed his hitcher, James Seay apprehending and Robert Cornthwaite interrogating for the FBI, Wesley Addy his cop pal Pat, in Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly, 1955.
Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - Something Big Classical music and skimpy workout gear for assistant Velda (Maxine Cooper) as Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) arrives at the office with ideas about the torture-murder of the girl he found on the highway, in Robert Aldrich's film of the Mickey Spillane novel, Kiss Me Deadly, 1955.
Paths Of Glory (1958) - He's Fortifying Himself In the trenches the night before the assault, Lt. Roget (Wayne Morris) is briefing unimpressed Paris (Ralph Meeker) and LeJeune (Kem Dibbs) on their recon mission, checking in with Col. Dax (Kirk Douglas), in Stanley Kubrick’s acclaimed First World War drama Paths Of Glory, 1958.
Paths Of Glory (1958) - See That Cockroach? Boulanger (Bert Freed) briefs the firing squad, then Ferol, Arnaud and Paris (Timothy Carey, Joseph Turkel, Ralph Meeker), scheduled for execution as examples for comrades who failed to launch a suicidal attack, receive a meal, in Stanley Kubrick’s First World War drama Paths Of Glory, 1958.
Paths Of Glory (1958) - To France! Gen. Mireau (George MacReady) with his officers before director Stanley Kubrick begins sequences featuring memorable tracking shots, first Col. Dax (Kirk Douglas) in the trenches, then taking his soldiers over the top for the assault, in the First World War drama Paths Of Glory, 1958.
Dirty Dozen, The (1967) - I'm Volunteering England, 1944, General Worden (Ernest Borgnine), with aides Denton, Armbruster and Kinder (Robert Webber, George Kennedy, Ralph Meeker) briefing the steely Major Reisman (Lee Marvin), all before the opening credits, in Robert Aldrich's The Dirty Dozen, 1967.
Brannigan (1975) - Knock Knock Modern enough opening, interrupting the credits, Ralph Meeker as the Chicago captain supervising cop John Wayne, title character, about to turn 70, who casually thumps a counterfeiter (Arthur Batanides), in the fairly profitable, mostly London-based police drama Brannigan, 1975.
Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - Thumb's Not Good Enough? That's Cloris Leachman barefoot on the highway in a trenchcoat, Ralph Meeker as Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer at the wheel of his Jaguar XK-20, Nat Cole's "Rather Have The Blues" on the radio, in the famous opening of Robert Aldrich's, Kiss Me Deadly, 1955.
Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - Popcorn Ralph Meeker (as Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer) makes a buy from a street vendor (on Rampart Blvd. near downtown Los Angeles), already knowing he's being tailed by a goon (Paul Richards), in Robert Aldrich's cold-war crime thriller Kiss Me Deadly, 1955.
Glory Alley (1952) - Title Song New Orleans boxer Socks (Ralph Meeker) is leaving to fight in Korea, so this sendoff with pals (John McIntire, Gilbert Roland et al) features a song from his trainer Shadow (Louis Armstrong), also the world’s greatest trumpeter, an original by Mack David and Jay Livingston, in Glory Alley, 1952.

Trailer

Code Two - (Original Trailer) Three young men train to become motorcycle cops in Code Two (1953).
Dirty Dozen, The - (Original Trailer) A renegade officer trains a group of misfits for a crucial mission behind enemy lines in The Dirty Dozen (1967) starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and Jim Brown.
Anderson Tapes, The - (Original Trailer) A thief (Sean Connery) plans a heist in a building full of surveillance cameras in Sidney Lumet's The Anderson Tapes (1971).
Naked Spur, The -- (Original Trailer) A captive outlaw uses psychological tactics to prey on a bounty hunter in The Naked Spur (1953), directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart, Robert Ryan and Janet Leigh.
Ada - (Original Trailer) Call girl Susan Hayward weds easygoing politician Dean Martin and helps him against corrupt state officials in Ada (1961).
I Walk The Line - (Original Trailer) Gregory Peck plays a Southern sheriff who is seduced into turning a blind eye to moonshiners in I Walk The Line (1970) with a soundtrack by Johnny Cash.
Teresa - (Original Trailer) In Teresa (1951) director Fred Zinneman imports the neo-realism style from Italy to America with a story of an Italian bride who marries an American GI.
Run of the Arrow - (Original Trailer) A bitter Confederate veteran (Rod Steiger) joins a Sioux tribe to keep his war against the Union going in Run of the Arrow (1957), directed by Sam Fuller.
Paths of Glory - (Original Trailer) During World War I, a military lawyer (Kirk Douglas) must participate in a show trial against his own troops in Stanley Kubrick's Paths Of Glory (1957).
Kiss Me Deadly - (Textless trailer) A hitchhiker wearing nothing but a trench coat leads detective Mike Hammer into an atomic conspiracy in Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly (1955).

Family

Ralph Rathgeber
Father
Magnhild Senovia Haavig Meeker Rathgeber
Mother

Companions

Salome Jens
Wife
Actor. Co-starred together in the stage production of "After the Fall" in NYC; married on July 20, 1964; divorced in 1966.
Colleen Meeker
Wife
Producer.

Bibliography