MSU department of theatre receives estate gift
The Murray State University department of theatre recently received a major gift from alumnus Hal Riddle. Vice President Jim Carter and Associate Vice President Bob Jackson, executors of Riddle’s estate, presented Riddle’s bequest to David Balthrop, chair of the department of theatre. Riddle, a 1942 graduate from Fulton, Ky., resided in the Motion Picture Retirement Home in Woodland Hills, Calif., where he passed away from an extended illness in 2009 at the age of 91.
During Riddle’s 50-year career on Broadway and in Hollywood, he appeared in more than 400 plays and TV shows. Riddle had regular appearances on shows such as “The Fugitive”, “Little House on the Prairie”, “Dallas”, “The Walton’s” and “Days of Our Lives.” He also starred in two dozen movies with Hollywood legends including Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Vincent Price, Walter Matthau, Michael Keaton, Lee Meriwether, Jack Lemmon, and Elvis Presley among others.
In 1975 Riddle was honored by the Murray State Alumni Association with the Distinguished Alumnus Award, the university’s highest honor. He served as the homecoming parade grand marshal and was a guest director of a summer theatre program at the university in the 1970s.
In 2007, he donated to the university a collection of more than 1,700 pieces of rare Hollywood memorabilia, autographs and original movie posters appraised at more than $350,000. While other universities and museums pursued the collection, Riddle chose to entrust his beloved mementos to his alma mater. The Hal Riddle Hollywood Movie Memorabilia Collection is currently housed in the Wrather West Kentucky Museum on Murray State’s campus. The balance of his estate will benefit the department of theatre. With this donation, the on-going royalties and residuals from his life’s work will continue to benefit MSU and its students for years to come.