Pat Hingle

Pat Hingle

Also known as: Martin Patterson Hingle


Born: July 19, 1924
Miami, Florida, USA

Died: January 3, 2009
Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Pat Hingle, the character actor whose career stretched back to the 1940s and whose credits encompassed copious roles in theatre, film and television, died Jan. 3, 2009, at his home in Carolina Beach, NC. He was 84. The cause was myelodysplasia, a blood disorder, his wife, Julia, said. Tall and solid built, with a twang left in his rich, deep voice from his Southern upbringing (he was born in Miami and raised and schooled in Texas), he played everything from gangsters to policemen and every moral station in between. With his wide smile, twinkling deep-set eyes and bushy eyebrows, which seemed imbued with years of homegrown wisdom, he effortlessly drew the viewer in, but — somewhat like his contemporary and fellow Southerner Burl Ives — his folksy charm could turn malevolent just as easily as it could prove virtuous. As Angelica Huston's underworld boss in the film "The Grifters," he spoke to her with paternal warmth while calmly loading a sack full of oranges, with which he planned to beat her.

Obituary: Critic Kenneth Tynan called him "a specialist in portraying the American male as a lusty, overgrown boy, given perhaps to blustering but inherently goodhearted."

He was both friendly and boorish as a football player in End as Man, the 1953 Broadway play that made his reputation, following a few years working in regional theatres. The adaptation of Calder Willingham's novel was a coming-of-age story set at a Southern military academy. When it was made into a film called "The Strange One," Mr. Hingle repeated his role.

Mr. Hingle cut a prominent figure on the stage in the 1950s, often starring in plays set in the South. He was the original Gooper in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (he portrayed Big Daddy in the same play at the Mark Taper Forum in 1983), and was Tony-nominated for his role as a trouble husband in William Inge's partly autobiographical The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, directed by Elia Kazan. He played the title character in J.B., Archibald MacLeish's allegorical take on the Job story. The play, which won the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award, was a sensation at the time, and the actor was widely praised. Mr. Hingle's time in it was cut short, however, when he fell more than 50 feet down the shaft of a stalled elevator. The near-fatal fall fractured his left hip and a finger had to be amputated. It took a year for him to get back on his feet.

The accident prevented him from accepting the title role in the film, "Elmer Gantry." The part went to Bert Lancaster, who won a best actor Oscar. "I know that if I had played Elmer Gantry, I would have been more of a movie name," Hingle told The New York Times in 1997. "But I'm sure I would not have done as many plays as I've done. I had exactly the kind of career I had hoped for." A workaholic, he was back on stage in 1960 in The Deadly Game.

He began working in television early on, performing in many live dramas. Kazan and Inge used him again when they cast him as Warren Beatty's powerful father in the 1961 film "Splendor in the Grass." He went on to star in "The Ugly American," "All the Way Home," "Invitation to a Gunfighter," "Nevada Smith," "Hang 'Em High," "Sweet, Sweet Rachel" and "Norma Rae." He was Commissioner Gordon in the first four "Batman" films.

During the 1960s, his Broadway work included a 1963 revival of Strange Interlude and a 1965 revival of The Glass Menagerie (as the Gentleman Caller), a stint playing Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple, James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie, the one-performance flop Johnny No-Trump, and the original policeman brother Victor Franz in Arthur Miller's family drama The Price.

He began the 1970s in Child's Play, followed by The Selling of the President, The Championship Season and The Lady From the Season. A chance to play Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman was offered by Buffalo's Studio Theatre in 1976. After 17 years away from Broadway, he played Ben Franklin in a 1997 revival of 1776, a rare musical for the actor. In 1999, he was cast to star in the Huntington Theatre Company production of The Last Hurrah, but exited the production before it began performances. He essayed his final stage roles at smaller theatres in North Carolina, which he made his home after filming "Maximum Overdrive" there in 1986.

Martin Patterson Hingle was born on July 19, 1924, in Miami, according to the New York Times. He went to high school in Weslaco, TX, where he played tuba in the band and attended the University of Texas, but dropped out during World War II to serve in the Navy.

Like many another actor of his generation, he got into the theatre in order to meet girls. "I went back to school [after the war]," he said, "and every time I saw a pretty girl I'd say, 'Who the hell is that?' Well, they were all headed towards the theatre department so I joined the campus Curtain Club. In three years I did 35 plays and in one of those plays I finally realized that I felt more comfortable than I did anywhere and I was where God intended me to be. I always feel that way."

His first marriage, to Alyce Dorsey, ended in divorce. He is survived by three children from that marriage, and his wife since 1979, Julia Wright.



Playbill Cover - 1776 1776
Aug. 14, 1997 - Jun. 14, 1998
Benjamin Franklin Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - A Life A Life
Nov. 2, 1980 - Jan. 3, 1981
Kearns Performer
Playbill Cover - The Lady from the Sea The Lady from the Sea
Mar. 18, 1976 - May 23, 1976
Dr. Wangel Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - That Championship Season That Championship Season
Sep. 14, 1972 - Apr. 21, 1974
Coach Performer
Playbill Cover - The Selling of the President The Selling of the President
Mar. 22, 1972 - Mar. 25, 1972
Sen. George W. Mason Performer
Playbill Cover - Child's Play Child's Play
Feb. 17, 1970 - Dec. 12, 1970
Joseph Dobbs Performer
Playbill Cover - The Price The Price
Feb. 7, 1968 - Feb. 15, 1969
Victor Franz Performer
Johnny No-Trump
Oct. 8, 1967 - Oct. 8, 1967
Harry Armstrong Performer
Playbill Cover - The Glass Menagerie The Glass Menagerie
May 4, 1965 - Oct. 2, 1965
The Gentleman Caller Performer
Playbill Cover - The Odd Couple The Odd Couple
Mar. 10, 1965 - Jul. 2, 1967
Oscar Madison
Feb. 28, 1966
Playbill Cover - A Girl Could Get Lucky A Girl Could Get Lucky
Sep. 20, 1964 - Sep. 26, 1964
Andy Willard Performer
Playbill Cover - Blues for Mister Charlie Blues for Mister Charlie
Apr. 23, 1964 - Aug. 29, 1964
Parnell Performer
Playbill Cover - Strange Interlude Strange Interlude
Mar. 11, 1963 - Jun. 29, 1963
Sam Evans Performer
Playbill Cover - The Deadly Game The Deadly Game
Feb. 2, 1960 - Mar. 5, 1960
Howard Trapp Performer
Playbill Cover - J.B. J.B.
Dec. 11, 1958 - Oct. 24, 1959
J. B. Performer
Playbill Cover - The Dark at the Top of the Stairs The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
Dec. 5, 1957 - Jan. 17, 1959
Rubin Flood Performer
Playbill Cover - Girls of Summer Girls of Summer
Nov. 19, 1956 - Jan. 5, 1957
Jules Taggart Performer
Playbill Cover - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Mar. 24, 1955 - Nov. 17, 1956
Gooper Performer
Playbill Cover - Festival Festival
Jan. 18, 1955 - Feb. 5, 1955
Joe Foster Performer
Playbill Cover - End as a Man End as a Man
Oct. 14, 1953 - Jan. 16, 1954
Harold Koble Performer

Inside the Playbill (3)

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Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1958 Featured Actor in a Play The Dark at the Top of the Stairs Nominee
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