Collection Title: William Harold Riddle Collection
Series Number: MS20-04
Processed and Cataloged by: Sarah Hardaway and Gage Overton
Date Listed: August 21, 2020
Date Span: 1929-2009
Size of Collection: 3.8 linear feet.
Number of Boxes: 6 document boxes, 1 oversized box
Type of Material: .Correspondence, Hollywood memorabilia, personal papers, photographs, programs, and other paper ephemera.
Condition of Material: Fair to Good.
Biographical / Historical Information: Hal Riddle (William Harold “Hal” Riddle) was a Broadway, movie, and television actor who was born in McLean County, Calhoun, Kentucky on December 11, 1919. Riddle graduated from Murray State University with a B.A. in 1942, having performed and directed many of the theatre department's productions while attending. After college Hal joined the Navy during World War II. After an honorable discharge, Riddle got a job in New York City to pay the bills but eventually worked as a secretary for the Hayloft Summer Theatre in Allentown, Pennsylvania where he would meet and room with lifelong friend, Jack Lemmon. He later studied and worked at Sanford Meisner’s Neighborhood Playhouse with Grace Kelly and Steve McQueen. His inspiration to become an actor he always credited to Billie Dove, a silent film actress. She sent him an autographed photo by mail at his request early in his life. Riddle played his first Broadway part in Mister Roberts in 1951. Riddle retired in 1995 to the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital. He met Billie Dove while living there and the two became good friends during the last year of her life. Riddle delivered Billie’s eulogy after her death. Stories about the friendship were published in The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, and Entertainment Weekly. For over 80 years, Riddle collected around 1,700 pieces of movie-related items. He appeared in around two dozen movies and over 400 television shows including The Fugitive, Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, Days of Our Lives, Green Acres, Bonanza, and Gunsmoke. Riddle’s draft registration card from July 1, 1941 says he was born in Calhoun, KY. His place of residence at the time is listed as 808 Walnut Street, Fulton, KY. Under occupation “M.S.T.C. (Murray State Teachers College) is noted. Hal Riddle died on June 17, 2009 in Woodland Hills, California.
Scope and Content: This collection is made up of primarily Hollywood memorabilia (posters and autographed portraits) and correspondence between Riddle and various people including his family, other actors and actresses, as well as directors and other notable people from the "Golden Era" of Hollywood. The collection includes many pictures spanning across the decades of Riddle's life from his younger years in Western Kentucky to Murray State Teachers College to the United States Navy to Broadway and Hollywood. Video and audio from Riddle's personal collection is in the form of VHS cassettes, CDs, and vinyl records. A few personal notebooks have notes written by Riddle during his last years at the MPTF Wasserman campus as well as a telephone book with very early phone numbers of people and studios in Hollywood, California. Also a part of the collection are programs from many of the theatre productions in which he performed.
Subject Headings / Descriptors: