Ralph Meeker is Gay, or rather, Ralph Meeker is Gay?

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Yesterday, at the Festival, someone was telling an anecdote about the actor Ralph Meeker. The anecdote itself is not worth repeating but the takeaway for me was that Ralph Meeker, according to this person’s mother, was gay and struggled with playing the course, virile Hal in the original Broadway production of Picnic. Obviously, as an actor who often plays heterosexuals (though usually less course, virile ones) I was reminded of the on going challenge for the gay actor playing straight. I suppose in some ways it was easier and then in some ways more difficult. And then, I thought I would do a little google sleuthing to find out more stories about Meeker’s sexuality. I found nothing. Nothing on IMDB, nothing on Wikipedia, even gayorstraight.com said he was heterosexual. So, who knows. I will say that looking at old pictures, I do wish he was gay, he is a heartthrob. Maybe it’s a little inappropriate to out an actor who does not seem keen on being outed from his grave, but I suppose at the end of the day, Ralph Meeker was an actor. I’m sure he’s just glad people are still talking about him.

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11 thoughts on “Ralph Meeker is Gay, or rather, Ralph Meeker is Gay?

  1. He certainly is (was) a heart throb of a MAN — Maybe he could have been swayed to dally if the moment had been right !

  2. “struggled with playing the course, virile Hal in the original Broadway production of Picnic.”

    There’s your clue that the story is probably not true. Even in his earliest film roles, before Picnic, Meeker is virile to the point of being macho, and, while I wouldn’t call any of his roles “coarse”, he was very masculine indeed in everything I’ve seen him do. While he was a very good actor, I don’t think the masculinity in his performances was acting. It’s too consistent.

    I don’t mean that gay men can’t be masculine, but if that part of the story is false, why would the rest of it be true?

    In his prime, Meeker was extremely attractive, so we also have to consider the tendency of many gay men to claim that every handsome actor is homosexual or at least bisexual.

    Putting those two things together, I think this guy’s claim sounds like wishful thinking, conveniently attributed to his mother to be less obvious.

  3. Unfortunately, Ralph had problems with too much alcohol which would have made him, probably, hard to deal with in real life. Such a shame that booze probably not only made him less desirable as an actor, but seemed to mar his once striking physique and very good looks. In the 1950s he looked like the type you would just want to snuggle with in bed. Whether or not he went both ways while he was living, as we remember him now I don’t think it’s doing any disservice to that memory by thinking of him in the ways we would have wanted to know him personally. If there is life after death and he is aware of all of how we still remember him, I hope and am fairly sure he wouldn’t have any objection at all.

    • You have it right ! . . Ralph was a terrific actor very effective portraits in many movies, one of my favorite actors . . . You can imagine how excited I was to meet him , I told him how happy I was to meet him and loved his movies. That’s it!
      I knew he was a serious alcoholic, but he put me down like I was a damn cockroach. . I met lots of celebs of the old days never got such rudeness from any except maybe Kevin Kennedy also a nasty one . . Aside from my disillusionment , I felt he was a very unhappy guy , it was 1971 or so . . . The unhappiness just oozed from that guy , too bad . . . Maybe he hated me because I was the one who sold him booze when I worked in the classy liquor store on Madison Ave. NY . . . Don’t know if he was gay or not . . . Regards to all. . .

  4. Eileen Heckart said he was gay. Her son is a gay writer. She told him Ralph “stuffed” his crotch with whatever to give the impression he was virile in “Picnic”. – Good material for his book, is all. Eileen Heckart’s son’s gossip is nothing more than that. Meeker was as heterosexual as they come.

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