Pat Hingle, best remembered for his recurring role as police commissioner Gordon in the Batman movies of the late 20th century, died January 3, 2009, at his home in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. The cause of death was myelodysplasia, a blood disorder. He was 84.
During the course of more than five decades, Pat Hingle appeared on Broadway, in movies, and on television. Among his most notable film roles are those of a cadet in the 1957 movie adaptation of Calder Willingham’s gay-themed drama The Strange One, directed by Jack Garfein and starring Ben Gazzara; Warren Beatty’s father in Elia Kazan’s Splendor in the Grass (1961); and a sadistic gangster in Stephen Frears’ The Grifters (1990), opposite Anjelica Huston.
As commissioner James Gordon, Pat Hingle was featured in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), both starring Michael Keaton in the title role; Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever (1995), starring Val Kilmer; and Schumacher’s Batman & Robin (1997), with George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell in the title roles. Commissioner Gordon was played by veteran Neil Hamilton in the 1960s television series starring Adam West, and by Gary Oldman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008).
Among Pat Hingle’s other big-screen credits are The Ugly American (1963), starring Marlon Brando; Bloody Mama (1970), with Shelley Winters; Norma Rae (1979), with Oscar winner Sally Field; Sudden Impact (1983), with Clint Eastwood; The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), with Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn; The Quick and the Dead (1995), a box office bomb starring Sharon Stone; and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), with Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Pat Hingle on television
On television, Pat Hingle played Dr. Chapman in several Gunsmoke episodes in the early ’70s, and guest-starred in dozens of TV series, among them Dr. Kildare, Gentle Ben, and The Rookies. Also of note, he incarnated J. Edgar Hoover in Frank Pierson’s 1992 HBO drama Citizen Cohn, featuring James Woods in the title role. All in all, Hingle was seen in more than 130 television productions.
Pat Hingle, Anjelica Huston The Grifters photo: Miramax Films.