Hurd Hatfield

Active - 1944 - 1991  |   Born - Dec 7, 1917 in New York City, New York  |   Died - Dec 26, 1998   |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Though hardly the easiest actor in the world to properly cast, Hurd Hatfield can claim at least two unforgettable film portrayals. Born in New York and educated at Columbia University, Hatfield was trained at England's Chekhov Drama School (Michael Chekhov, not Anton) and made his stage debut in London. He was personally selected by eccentric filmmaker Albert Lewin to play the title role in the 1945 movie version of The Picture of Dorian Gray. It was an astonishing performance, one that proved virtually untoppable for Hatfield; nothing he would do in his sporadic film appearances of the 1940s and 1950s came close to this personal triumph. After several years on stage, Hatfield was cast as Pontius Pilate in Nicholas Ray's filmization of The King of Kings (1961) -- another brilliant, matchless characterization. Perceived as a "cold fish" in his leading-man days, Hatfield was able to use his sang-froid to his advantage in such roles as Paul Bern in Harlow (the 1965 Carol Lynley version) and the middle-aged sex deviate in The Boston Strangler (1968). The best of Hurd Hatfield's most recent screen appearances was his portrayal of an inconvenient and troublesome grandparent in Crimes of the Heart (1986).

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