Burly American character actor Ralph Meeker first acted on stage at his alma mater, Northwestern University, alongside other budding performers Charlton Heston and Patricia Neal. He graduated as a music major because his dean had discouraged him from pursuing a theatrical career. Ignoring that advice, Meeker nevertheless moved to New York to study method acting and performing in local stock companies. After being injured during a brief wartime stint with the navy and consequently discharged from active duty, Meeker went overseas to play his part in entertaining the troops as a member of the USO. He finally arrived on Broadway in 1945 and was given small roles in two plays produced by José Ferrer, making his stage debut in "Strange Fruit". He was still relatively unknown in 1947 when he replaced Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" two years later, in the process giving a commanding and critically acclaimed performance. After playing Kowalski in the touring co

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