Actor Doug Hale Dies at 73

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Paul Douglas (Doug) Hale, an actor who appeared in films including Michael Mann’s “Ali” as well on TV and onstage, died at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif., on April 25, following a brief illness. He was 73.

In addition to director Mann’s Muhammad Ali biopic, Hale appeared in films including 1975’s “The Brass Ring,” directed by Martin Beck; 1975’s “The Night They Robbed Big Bertha’s,” directed by Peter Kares; Claude Lelouche’s “Another Man Another Chance”; Tony Richardson’s 1982 film “The Border”; “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”; and “The Cable Guy,” directed by Ben Stiller.

Hale appeared on a number of TV series, recurring on “Hart to Hart” and “Hotel” and guesting on “Kojak,” ”The Bionic Woman”, “Simon & Simon,” “Highway to Heaven,” “Max Headroom,” “Scarecrow and Mrs. King,” “The Misfits of Science”, “Night Court,” “Suddenly Susan,” “Babylon 5,” “Seinfeld,” “Arliss,” “My Name Is Earl,” “The West Wing” and “Mad Men.”

The actor began onstage by studying at the Neighborhood Playhouse with Stanford Meisner, at the HB Studio with Herbert Berghoff and Uta Hagen, at the Pasadena Playhouse and with the theatrical department at the U. of Georgia. He performed in New York (on and Off Broadway) and elsewhere in plays including “Ballad of the Sad Café,” “Telemachus Clay”, “A View From the Bridge,” “King Lear”, “As You Like It,” “Richard II,” “Joe Egg,” “The Price,” “Private Lives,” “Night Must Fall,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Arsenic and Old Lace.”

Born in Athens, Ga., Hale began studying the cornet/trumpet when he was 5 and began his acting career at age 8 in a play at the U. of Georgia. After WWII, he played taps at funerals. At age 12 he began playing the trumpet professionally with the University of Georgia Dance Band. While in college, he spent two summers in Las Vegas playing the trumpet with the Glenn Miller Orchestra conducted by Ray McKinley.

Hale attended UC Berkley and finished his education at the U. of Georgia, receiving a BA in English in 1963 and post graduate degree in 1966 specializing in Medieval Literature and Linguistics. During his early teaching career, he was a professor of English at the U. of Georgia, followed by the U. of North Carolina Chapel Hill and finally Columbus College (Columbus State U.), where he was instrumental in setting up the graduate program in the English department. He retired from teaching to pursue a full-time acting career. In the fall of 1965 he joined the United States Air Force Reserves, and he was a cargo pilot during the Vietnam War. He was honorably discharged as a captain in March 1978.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Anne; a stepson; and a grandson.

Donations may be made to the Actors Fund (www.actorsfund.org/support-fund/tributes-memorials) or to the University of Georgia Cancer Center — Complex Carbohydrate Research Center (cberg@ccrc.uga.edu).

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  1. Bill Ellison says:

    Doug Hale was my very first college instructor at Columbus College ( Columbus, Ga.) in the summer of 1970. I had just graduated from high school, and transitioning into college with Mr Hale teaching our English 101 class was interesting, challenging, and quite enjoyable. The most outstanding memory for me was his reading a short story called ” That Evening Sun” ( by William Faulkner, I believe)…. he was reading a passage written in black dialect, but in his booming broadcast voice, and it totally cracked me up! I have never forgotten that, and have imitated it many times. After that I was stunned to suddenly see Doug in a commercial on TV one day,…. and then again a number of years later. Had no idea of what had ever happened with him, and ironically, it may have been about the time he passed away… that I had [ strangely] run across an old video ( as part of “I Love the 80’s” documentary, I think- ) where he had been in an Energizer bunny commercial. Wow! What a career! So VERY sorry to hear that he had been ill and had left us. He will be missed greatly. All my best to you. Would love to learn more about him and his life!

  2. Richard Russell says:

    Doug was a very dear friend for more than 45 years, after we met in the Air Force. Amazing that we had not meet before that, both being students at UGA at the same time, and my spending summers with family less than 20 miles from his childhood home. With broad interests, he was an amazing well of knowledge with an unquenchable thirst for more about you and where you came from and what was in your head; he had a zest for life that would be difficult to match. He was strong and healthy, and no one was ready for this. A little piece of my heart is gone, but wonderful memories remain with me.

  3. RLPwriters says:

    Doug and I were best friends for nearly 60 years. Words can not describe my sense of loss.

  4. GF Holcomb says:

    Doug was a high school friend and a bright young man. He fulfilled many of his dreams. Playing now in The Big Band in the Sky.

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