|Born||Joan Bogle Hickson
5 August 1906
Kingsthorpe, Northampton, England
|Died||17 October 1998
Colchester, Essex, England
|Spouse(s)||Eric Norman Butler (1932–1967)|
Joan Hickson, OBE (5 August 1906 – 17 October 1998) was an English actress of theatre, film and television. A master of alert and intelligent interpretation, she is particularly beloved in her role as Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in the television series Miss Marple. As well as portraying Miss Marple on television, Hickson also narrated a number of Miss Marple stories on audio books.
Born in Kingsthorpe, Northampton, Joan Bogle Hickson was a daughter of shoe manufacturer Alfred Harold Hickson and his wife, the former Edith Mary Bogle. She made her stage debut in 1927, and for several years worked throughout the United Kingdom and achieved success playing comedic, often eccentric characters in London's West End, including the role of the cockney maid Ida in the original production of See How They Run, at the Q Theatre in 1944, and then at the Comedy Theatre in January 1945.
She made her first film appearance in 1934, and the numerous supporting roles of her career included several Carry On films including Sister in Carry On Nurse; in a wonderfully comedic moment, her character in Carry On Girls discovers that someone has played a practical joke on her, waving her underwear from a flagpole. Joan then approaches Jack Douglas, and informs him that she would like him to accompany her across to the promenade. When he asks why, she exclaims – with impeccable timing – "Well, I want you to take my knickers down!"
In the 1940s she appeared on-stage in an Agatha Christie play, Appointment with Death, which was seen by Christie who wrote in a note to her, "I hope one day you will play my dear Miss Marple". From 1963–66 she played Mrs. Peace, housekeeper to Reverend Stephen Young (played by Donald Sinden) in the highly rated TV series Our Man At St. Mark's. Hickson played the housekeeper in the Marple film Murder, She Said in 1961 (based on Agatha Christie's original novel 4.50 From Paddington), which starred Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. From 1970–71, she played Mrs Pugsley in Bachelor Father. Hickson played Mrs Chambers in Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? In 1986, she played the part of Mrs. Trellis in Clockwise.
Her stage career included roles in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, the Tony Hatch-Jackie Trent 1975 musical The Card, and Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce, for which she won a 1979 Tony Award for 'Best Featured Actress in a Play'. In 1980 she appeared in yet another Agatha Christie production, as Mrs. Rivington in Why Didn't They Ask Evans?.
The BBC began filming the works of Agatha Christie in the mid 1980s, and were conscious of the criticism that had been levelled at the most famous portrayal of Miss Marple given by Margaret Rutherford. In making a new series, the makers determined to remain faithful to the plotlines and locales of Christie's stories, and most importantly to represent Miss Marple as written. Hickson played the role in all 12 adaptations of the novels produced from 1984 to 1992, and received two BAFTA nominations for Best TV Actress, 1987 and 1988. When the OBE was bestowed on Hickson in 1987, Queen Elizabeth II was reported to have said, "You play the part just as one envisages it."
Hickson was married to Eric Butler (died 1967), a physician, by whom she had a son and daughter.
Miss Marple filmography
- The Body in the Library (1984)
- The Moving Finger (1985)
- A Murder Is Announced (1985)
- A Pocket Full of Rye (1985)
- The Murder at the Vicarage (1986) – BAFTA nomination
- Sleeping Murder (1987)
- At Bertram's Hotel (1987)
- Nemesis (1987) – BAFTA nomination
- 4.50 from Paddington (1987)
- A Caribbean Mystery (1989)
- They Do It With Mirrors (1991)
- The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side (1992)
- Widow's Might (1934)
- The Lilac Domino (1937)
- Love from a Stranger (1937)
- Second Thoughts (1938)
- Freedom Radio (1940)
- The Saint Meets the Tiger (1943)
- Don't Take It to Heart (1944)
- I See a Dark Stranger (1945)
- The Guinea Pig as Mrs Read (1948)
- Seven Days to Noon (1950)
- The Magnet (1950)
- High Treason (1951)
- Hell is Sold Out (1951)
- The Card (1952)
- Hindle Wakes (1952)
- Shoot First (1953)
- Deadly Nightshade (1953)
- Dance, Little Lady (1954)
- As Long as They're Happy (1955)
- Doctor at Sea (1955)
- Value for Money (1955)
- Simon and Laura (1955)
- An Alligator Named Daisy (1955)
- Jumping for Joy (1956)
- The Man Who Never Was (1956)
- Port of Escape (1956)
- The Extra Day (1956)
- The Last Man to Hang? (1956)
- Carry on Admiral (1957)
- No Time for Tears (1957)
- Happy is the Bride (1958)
- Law and Disorder (1958)
- Upstairs and Downstairs (1959)
- Carry On Nurse (1959)
- Carry On Constable (1959)
- The 39 Steps colour remake (1959)
- No Kidding (1960)
- Carry On Regardless (1960)
- Barnaby Rudge as Mrs. Varden (1960)
- Murder, She Said as Mrs. Kidder (1961)
- Raising the Wind (1961)
- Nurse on Wheels (1963)
- Heavens Above! (1963)
- Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter (1968)
- Carry On Loving (1970)
- A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1970)
- Friends (1971)
- Carry On Girls (1973)
- Theatre of Blood (1973)
- Great Expectations (1981)
- Clockwise (1986)
- King of the Wind (1989)
- Century (1993)
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
- Haining, Peter. Agatha Christie – Murder in Four Acts (Page 140). 1990. Virgin Books. ISBN 1-85227-273-2
- Deacon, Michael (22 September 2007). "Checking in to murder". Telegraph. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
- "Miss Marple actress dies at 92". BBC. 18 October 1998. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
- Lyall, Sarah (20 October 1998). "Joan Hickson, Miss Marple on TV, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
- Joan Hickson at the Internet Broadway Database
- Joan Hickson at the Internet Movie Database
- Joan Hickson at Find a Grave
- Performances by Joan Hickson in the Archive of the University of Bristol