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Ralph Meeker (1920-1988) was born Ralph Rathgeber in Minneapolis, and raised in Chicago. He attended Northwestern University and served in World War II before embarking on a career as an actor, notably in the stage productions of "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Picnic." His first film was "Teresa" (1951), and he remained active in motion pictures through 1979. Among his best-known features are "Somebody Loves Me" (1952), "The Naked Spur" (1953), "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955), "Paths of Glory" (1957), "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre" (1967), and "The Detective" (1968).
The Ralph Meeker papers span the years 1928-1977 and encompass 1.0 linear foot. The collection consists of theater programs, clippings, and reviews; an unproduced screenplay and play script; a few television contracts and clippings; and juvenilia. Much of Meeker's theater career is covered, with interesting material on his best-known theatrical role, "Picnic" (1953-1954), including the complete text of the play by William Inge, the road tour itinerary, opening-night telegrams, and a letter from director Joshua Logan. Also of interest are an outline and excerpts for Meeker's proposed autobiography, "Places I've Known and People I've Been." Aside from a minimal amount of correspondence of a relatively unimportant nature, there is nothing relating to Meeker's film career.
Gift of Ralph Meeker, 1983.