Born Martin Patterson Hingle on July 19, 1924, the actor known to audiences as Pat Hingle died of myelodysplasia, a form of blood cancer on Saturday,Jan. 3 at his home in Carolina Beach, N.C. Perhaps best known for his role as Commissioner Gordon in the first four Batman films, Hingle actually had a 55-year careerspanning theater, film, and television.
Though he once said he started acting simply because all the pretty girls seemed to gravitate toward the stage, theater soon became his true love, and Hingle was eventually accepted into the prestigious Actors Studio in New York. If any one person helped him get his break it was Elia Kazan, the hard-hitting director of A Streetcar Named Desire, who cast Hingle as an uncredited bartender in On the Waterfront and, more importantly, as the conniving Goober in the original Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Later, Hingle would play Warren Beatty’s soul-killing father in Kazan’s Splendor in the Grass.
His stern, yet slightly forlorn face lent itself well to conservative authority figures, whether as the crime lord menacing Anjelica Huston in The Grifters, as Sally Field’s father in Norma Rae, and most notably as Commissioner James Gordon in the four Batman films of the movie franchise Tim Burton first started in 1989.
Hingle never quite became a star, but that didn’t diminish his love of of acting. A few years ago Hingle told the Washington Post, “There were the Gary Coopers and the Clark Gables, but they didn’t really appeal to me. But I saw Walter Huston and Hume Cronyn in about 10 movies and I saw that it was possible to play a wide variety of roles where there [were] no connections between one or the other; they weren’t put into a slot….I saw what was possible.”
Hingle is survived by Julia, his wife of 29 years, his five children, 11 grandchildren, and two sisters.
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