|Ralph Meeker in Code Two|
Meeker came to the public's and critics' attention when he replaced Marlon Brando in the stage version of A Streetcar Named Desire and won very good reviews. Then he got the lead role in William Inge's Picnic. The story goes that he turned down the lead in the film version because he didn't want to be tied down to a studio contract, and this negatively affected his career thereafter. He never attained the super-stardom of, say, a William Holden (who took Meeker's part in the film version of Picnic) but he did have a solid career and won many raves for his work in the years to come, amassing 110 credits in movies and on television. His pictures include The Naked Spur, Ada, The Food of the Gods, Jeopardy, The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, and others that Great Old Movies is looking into this week (see below) -- including the famous Kiss Me Deadly, Meeker had three wives, the best-known of which was the actress Salome Jens of Seconds. He was only 67 when he died.