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Who is Pat Hingle?

Ben Steelman

One of America’s most beloved character actors, Pat Hingle came to Wilmington in 1985 to shoot the Stephen King thriller “Maximum Overdrive” (1986). He liked the area so much, he and his wife bought a house at Carolina Beach and lived here until his death on Jan. 3, 2009.

While living in the area, Hingle appeared in a number of local stage productions, narrated local films and supported local charities and non-profits.

He co-starred in a number of films and TV productions shot locally, including “Bastard Out of Carolina” (1990), “Muppets from Space” (1999) and “Simple Justice” (1993), a PBS drama about the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling (as Chief Justice Earl Warren). He also as executive producer for “The Angel Doll” (2002) a locally filmed TV movie, based on the book by Jerry Bledsoe.

Born Martin Patterson Hingle, July 19, 1924, in Miami, Fla., Hingle attended the University of Texas on a tuba scholarship, but dropped out to serve in the U.S. Navy in World War II. Returning to the university, he shifted into drama — as a way to meet girls, he later claimed.

Acting in New York, Hingle premiered the role of Gooper in the 1955 production of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” earned a Tony nomination in 1958 for his role in William Inge’s “Dark at the Top of the Stairs” and premiered the title role in Archibald McLeish’s “J.B.” During that last production, he accidentally fell down a 54-foot elevator shaft, an injury that left him hospitalized for months and cost him the little finger on his left hand — a disability seldom seen on screen.

Movie fans know Hingle best as Commissioner Gordon in the “Batman” movies of the 1980s and 1990s. Among his more notable appearances were in “Splendor in the Grass” (1961) as Warren Beatty’s father, “Hang ‘Em High” (1968) with Clint Eastwood, “Baby Boom” (1987), “The Grifters” (1990) as the sinister gangster Bobo Justus.

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