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Darryl Hickman

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Darryl Hickman
Darryl Gerard Hickman

(1931-07-28)July 28, 1931
DiedMay 22, 2024(2024-05-22) (aged 92)
  • Actor
  • screenwriter
  • television executive
  • acting coach
Years active1934–1999
(m. 1959; div. 1982)
  • Lynda Farmer Hickman (m. 19??)
RelativesDwayne Hickman (brother)

Darryl Gerard Hickman (July 28, 1931 – May 22, 2024) was an American actor, screenwriter, television executive, and acting coach. He started his career as a child actor in the Golden Age of Hollywood and appeared in numerous television serials as an adult, including several episodes of the CBS series The Nanny. He appeared in films such as The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and Leave Her to Heaven (1945).

He was the older brother of Dwayne Hickman, an actor, television executive, producer and director.

Child actor in the 1930s and 1940s[edit]

In the mid-1930s, Darryl was discovered by a dance-school director, and subsequently became a student there. The following year, Hollywood studio Paramount signed a contract with the child actor. His first film role was as Ronald Colman's son in The Prisoner of Zenda in 1937.[1] He attended Paramount's school in California and his classmates included Gene Nelson and Jackie Cooper.[2]

Hickman in Joe Smith, American (1942)

In preparation for the 1939 Bing Crosby movie The Star Maker, Paramount casting agents, led by Leroy Prinz, interviewed more than a thousand children. Hickman won one of the parts in the film. Pleased with Hickman's performance, Crosby notified his older brother and talent agent Everett Crosby of the young actor.[3][4] After this, he went on to appear in multiple motion pictures throughout the 1930s and 1940s in a wide array of genres. A busy performer, he sometimes worked on different films simultaneously.[5]

In 1939, Hickman was cast in 20th Century Fox's film adaption of John Steinbeck's best-selling novel from 1939, The Grapes of Wrath, starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford. He portrayed Winfield Joad, the youngest member of a family trying to cope with the hardships of the Great Depression.[6] The film was a critical and commercial success, with Ford winning an Academy Award for Best Director, while actress Jane Darwell won for Best Supporting Actress.[7][8] In 1941, Hickman played a reform-school juvenile delinquent in Men of Boys Town, "almost running away [with the movie] right under [co-star] Mickey Rooney's nose", said one review.[9] Another notable role during this time included the wartime melodrama The Human Comedy, where he played a mentally slow child. Hickman made a featured appearance as Frank in the 1942 Our Gang comedy short Going to Press.[10][unreliable source] In 1944, he again played the bad-boy antagonist, cast opposite Jimmy Lydon's goody two-shoes character in the film Henry Aldrich, Boy Scout.[9]

In 1946, he played the younger version of Van Heflin's character Sam Masterson in the film noir The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. To make it seem credible that Hickman looked like a young Van Heflin, the latter provided a picture of himself as a teenager to makeup artist Wally Westmore.[11] In this period, he also acted alongside Gene Tierney and Cornel Wilde in the 1945 film Leave Her to Heaven. Being the sole survivor among the cast, he provided extra commentary in the DVD release of the movie. His experience of working with Tierney was mixed; he considered her to have been aloof and not to have given her best performance, although it led to a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.[12]

The year after the release of Leave Her to Heaven, Hickman was lauded by a newspaper as "one of Hollywood's top juveniles".[13] Hickman later became critical of child acting, lamenting how the profession for young actors deprives them of a real childhood. He opted to get therapy for several years to come to terms with his past.[14][15]

Hickman with Susan Peters in Song of Russia (1944)

Adult years as an actor[edit]

Hickman graduated from Cathedral High School in Los Angeles in 1948 (his brother Dwayne graduated from the same school in 1952).[16] Finding it hard to adjust to adulthood after being in the limelight for most of his childhood, he retired from show business to enter a monastery in 1951 as a Passionist monk. He returned to Hollywood around one month later.[17][18] He continued acting, but with fewer roles than he had at the peak of his career. One of his most notable roles during this time was as Al in the 1956 film Tea and Sympathy. He also began acting for the first time in the then-new entertainment medium of television. The switch did not always turn out successfully, for many shows were cancelled for various reasons in the early years of television.[19] Hickman's ongoing efforts to reinvigorate his acting career were interrupted for two years while he served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956 during the Korean War.[20]

In 1959 and 1960, Hickman appeared on younger brother Dwayne Hickman's CBS sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, playing Dobie's older brother Davey in three episodes: "The Right Triangle" (1959), "Deck the Halls" (1959), and "Where There's a Will" (1960).[21][unreliable source] Also in 1959 he starred twice in the TV Western Gunsmoke; as "Andy Hill" in the episode "The Choice" (S4E34) and as "Danny" in the episode "Target" (S5E1). In 1961, Hickman starred in a short-lived TV series The Americans.[19]

In 1957, Hickman played murderer Steve Harris in the Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece". He appeared in two episodes of The Untouchables, "You Can't Pick the Number" and "Pressure". Aside from film and television, Hickman also starred in the Broadway production of Pulitzer Prize-winning play How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 1963, substituting for star Robert Morse,[19] and in the touring company of the musical George M in 1969.[22] In 1976, after a 17-year hiatus from movies, Hickman had a minor role as Bill Herron in Network.[23][24]

Television executive and acting coach[edit]

Hickman became a television executive, producer, and occasional screenwriter, mainly working in New York City.[15] He wrote the scripts for several 1961 episodes of The Loretta Young Show.[25] In the early 1970s, Hickman was associate producer of the long-running soap opera Love of Life.[15] He was also one of the producers of A Year at the Top with Norman Lear in 1977. During the production of the pilot episode for A Year at the Top, he reunited with guest-star Mickey Rooney, with whom he had acted in the Boys Town sequel Men of Boys Town in 1941.[26]

Hickman's book about acting techniques, The Unconscious Actor: Out of Control, in Full Command, was published in April 2007.[27] In it, he explains how his approach to acting evolved through his interactions with the various actors and directors with whom he worked over the years. One of his most important influences came from working with Spencer Tracy and George Cukor in the 1942 movie Keeper of the Flame. In another book written by James Curtis and published in 2011, Spencer Tracy: A Biography, Hickman's admiration for Tracy and Cukor is again documented. He praises the two men's patience in that biography, as well as their ability to give due attention to inexperienced actors such as himself.[28] Earlier, in a 2002 interview, Hickman stated that the current generation of young Hollywood actors was talented, but lacked the proper coaching and ambition.[29]

Personal life and death[edit]

Hickman was born in Hollywood, California, on July 28, 1931,[30] to Milton and Katherine (née Ostertag) Hickman.[citation needed] His father sold insurance and his mother was a housewife.[30] His maternal grandfather, Louis Henry Ostertag, was a U.S. Navy seaman on Commodore George Dewey's flagship, the cruiser USS Olympia (C-6), and present at the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, for which he was awarded the Dewey Medal by Act of Congress. Per the 1940 Census, Darryl and his family were living with his grandparents at 950 N. Kenmore Ave. in Los Angeles.[citation needed]

Hickman married actress Pamela Lincoln, with whom he had acted in the movie The Tingler, on November 28, 1959.[31][32] The couple, who had two sons, divorced in 1982. Their younger son, Justin, committed suicide at the age of 19 in 1985.[17]

Hickman died on May 22, 2024, at the age of 92.[30][33]

Selected filmography[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
1937 The Prisoner of Zenda Bit Role Uncredited
1938 If I Were King Child Uncredited
1939 The Star Maker "Boots"
1940 Emergency Squad Bob Uncredited
The Grapes of Wrath Winfield Joad
The Farmer's Daughter Billy Bingham Uncredited
The Way of All Flesh Victor As A boy
Prairie Law Homesteader's Son Uncredited
Untamed Mickey Moriarty
Mystery Sea Raider Benny Uncredited
Young People Tommy
1941 Sign of the Wolf Billy Freeman
Men of Boys Town "Flip"
Mob Town Butch "Shrimp" Malone
Glamour Boy Billy Doran
1942 Young America David Engstrom
Joe Smith, American Johnny Smith
Jackass Mail Tommy Gargan
Northwest Rangers 'Blackie' As A Boy
1943 Keeper of the Flame Jeb Rickards
The Human Comedy Lionel
Assignment in Brittany Etienne
1944 Henry Aldrich, Boy Scout Peter Kent
Song of Russia Peter Bulganov
And Now Tomorrow Joe Uncredited
Meet Me in St. Louis Johnny Tevis Uncredited
1945 Salty O'Rourke "Sneezer"
Captain Eddie Eddie Rickenbacker As A Boy
Rhapsody in Blue Ira Gershwin As A Boy
Kiss and Tell Raymond Pringle
Leave Her to Heaven Danny Harland
1946 Two Years Before the Mast Sam Hooper
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers Young Sam Masterson
Boys' Ranch Hank
1947 The Devil on Wheels Micky Clark
Black Gold Schoolboy
Dangerous Years Leo Emerson
1948 The Sainted Sisters Jud Tewilliger
Fighting Father Dunne Matt Davis
Big Town Scandal "Skinny" Peters
1949 Alias Nick Beal Larry Price
The Set-Up Shanley
Any Number Can Play Paul Enley Kyng
A Kiss for Corliss Dexter Franklin
1950 The Happy Years "Tough" McCarty
1951 Lightning Strikes Twice "String"
Criminal Lawyer Bill Webber Uncredited
Submarine Command Jack Wheelwright
1953 Destination Gobi Wilbur "Coney" Cohen
Island in the Sky Swanson
Sea of Lost Ships Senior Cadet Pete Bennett
1954 Southwest Passage Jeb
Prisoner of War Merton Tollivar
Ricochet Romance Dave King
1955 Many Rivers to Cross Miles Henderson Uncredited
1956 Tea and Sympathy Al
1957 The Iron Sheriff Benjamin "Benjie" Galt
The Persuader Toby Bonham
1959 The Tingler David Morris
Time Element Ensign Janoski TV series
1976 Network Bill Herron
1981 Looker Dr. Jim Belfield
Sharky's Machine Detective Smiley
1982 The Tragedy of King Lear Earl of Kent
1986 GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords Marbles / Hornet Voice


Title Year Role Notes
Sneak Preview 1956 Season 1 Episode 5: "The Way Back"
Alfred Hitchcock Presents 1957 Jackie Blake Season 3 Episode 4: "Heart of Gold"
Wanted: Dead or Alive 1959 Damon Ring, Jr. Season 1 Episode 18: "Rope Law"
Gunsmoke 1959 Andy Hill S4:E34, "The Choice"
Danny S5:E1, "Target"
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis 1959–1960 Davey Gillis Episode: "The Right Triangle"
Episode: "Deck the Halls"
Episode: "Where There's a Will"
Rawhide 1961 Andy Miller S3:E18, "Incident of the Running Iron"
The Untouchables 1959-1962 Phil Morrisey S1:E11, "You Can't Pick the Number"
Danny Madikoff S3:E26, "Pressure"
Good Old Days 1966 Rok unsold sitcom pilot

Short films[edit]

  • Coffins on Wheels (1941) – Billy Phillips
  • Heart Burn (1942) – Nephew
  • Going to Press (1942) – Frank
  • Boogie Woogie (1945) – Junior Stumplefinger


  1. ^ "Darryl Hickman Right In His Element In Kiss For Corliss". The Capital. Annapolis, Maryland. January 30, 1950. p. 10. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Newspaperarchive.com.
  2. ^ "The Hollywood Round-Up". Amarillo Globe-News. UP. September 12, 1939. p. 13. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Newspaperarchive.com.
  3. ^ Written at Hollywood. "Darryl Hickman finds brother is now his boss". The Mercury. Pottstown, Pennsylvania. UPI. August 5, 1977. p. 24. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ Neville, Lucie (June 25, 1939). "Pooh for Shirley! They're in the Movies Now!". San Bernardino County Sun. Hollywood. p. 32. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Civil War Theme-'The Americans' Eagerly Watched By Americans". Wilson Daily Times. May 2, 1961. p. 13. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Newspaperarchive.com.
  6. ^ Nugent, Frank (January 25, 1940). "Twentieth Century-Fox Shows a Flawless Film Edition of John Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 6, 2020. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  7. ^ "The 13th Academy Awards (1941) Nominees and Winners". Oscars. October 5, 2014. Archived from the original on March 21, 2016. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  8. ^ King, Susan (January 11, 2001). "'Grapes' Memories". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Theaters". Mansfield News Journal. April 13, 1944. Archived from the original on October 28, 2020. Retrieved October 23, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  10. ^ Going to Press at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  11. ^ "Photographers Serve As Makeup Models". Brownsville Herald. Hollywood. February 10, 1946. p. 28. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Newspaperarchive.com.
  12. ^ Henderson, Eric (May 28, 2013). "Leave Her to Heaven". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on September 12, 2015. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  13. ^ "'Devil On Wheels' Is Lesson Film". Camden News. June 28, 1947. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Newspaperarchive.com.
  14. ^ Sifford, Darrell (October 29, 1984). "Former child star learns to cope". Boca Raton News. p. 6. Archived from the original on May 22, 2022. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Google News Archive.
  15. ^ a b c Dunn, Bill (May 29, 1971). "Actor Now Producing And Writing". The Tribune. Seymour, Indiana. p. 18. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Newspaperarchive.com.
  16. ^ Wakelee-Lynch, Joseph (November 17, 2011). "The Careers of Dwayne Hickman '56". Loyola Marymount University. Archived from the original on March 12, 2016. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Overview for Darryl Hickman". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on June 12, 2016. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  18. ^ Graves, Jim (July 27, 2017). "The Hollywood Round-Up". Catholic World Report. Archived from the original on September 23, 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
  19. ^ a b c "Darryl Hickman He Has TV Scars". Doylestown Intelligencer. December 21, 1963. p. 21. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Newspaperarchive.com.
  20. ^ "Darryl Hickman". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on August 8, 2016. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  21. ^ "Darryl Hickman" Archived April 21, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. IMDb. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  22. ^ https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/darryl-hickman-85874#touring
  23. ^ Crosby, Joan (September 29, 1977). "Ex-child actor busy in adult behind-camera work". El Paso Herald-Post. p. 44. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved July 2, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
  24. ^ Monaco, James (1992). Network. Perigee Trade. p. 617. ISBN 9780399517808.
  25. ^ Witbeck, Charles (July 2, 1961). "Darryl Hickman's Growing Up". Chicago Tribune. p. 8. Archived from the original on May 25, 2024. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  26. ^ "'A Day at the Top', Norman Lear's Latest". Findlay Courier. Los Angeles. AP. January 5, 1977. p. 13. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Newspaperarchive.com.
  27. ^ Hickman, Darryl (2007). The Unconscious Actor: Out of Control, In Full Command. Small Mountain Press. ISBN 978-0977680924.
  28. ^ Curtis, James (2011). Spencer Tracy: A Biography. Knopf. ISBN 978-0307262899.
  29. ^ Koseluk, Chris (February 14, 2002). "Acting Out". Backstage. Archived from the original on August 14, 2016. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  30. ^ a b c Murphy, Brian (May 26, 2024). "Darryl Hickman, celebrated child actor in the 1940s, dies at 92". Washington Post. Retrieved May 28, 2024.
  31. ^ "Actor Darryl Hickman Marries in Hollywood". Racine Journal Times. Hollywood. AP. November 29, 1959. p. 10. Archived from the original on December 20, 2023. Retrieved December 20, 2023 – via Newspaperarchive.com.
  32. ^ Morris, Eric (2015). The Diary of a Professional Experiencer: An Autobiographical Journey Into the Evolution of an Acting System. Ermor Enterprises. ISBN 978-0962970955.
  33. ^ Barnes, Mike (May 24, 2024). "Darryl Hickman, Young Actor in 'The Grapes of Wrath' and 'Leave Her to Heaven,' Dies at 92". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 24, 2024. Retrieved May 24, 2024.


  • Holmstrom, John. The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995, Norwich, Michael Russell, 1996, pp. 169–170.
  • Best, Marc. Those Endearing Young Charms: Child Performers of the Screen, South Brunswick and New York: Barnes & Co., 1971, pp. 105–110.

External links[edit]