Wickes in the trailer for Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows (1966)
|Born||Mary Isabella Wickenhauser
June 13, 1910
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||October 22, 1995
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Surgical complications|
|Resting place||Shiloh Valley Cemetery in Shiloh, Illinois|
|Alma mater||Washington University in St. Louis|
Mary Wickes (June 13, 1910 – October 22, 1995) was an American film and television character actress. She often played supporting roles as prim, professional women, secretaries, nurses and housekeepers, who made sarcastic quips when the leading characters fell short of her high standards.
Mary Isabella Wickenhauser (she later shortened her surname for acting) was born to Frank Wickenhauser (1880-1943) and his wife, Mary Isabella (née Shannon; died 1965), in St. Louis, Missouri, of German, Scottish and Irish extraction, and raised Protestant. Her parents were theater buffs, and took her to plays from the time that she could stay awake through a matinee. An excellent student, she skipped two grades in grade school, and graduated at sixteen from Beaumont High School. She was accepted into Washington University in St. Louis, where she joined the debate team, the Phi Mu women's fraternity and was initiated into Mortar Board in 1929. She graduated in 1930 with a double major in English literature and political science. Although she had planned a career in law, a favorite professor encouraged her to try drama, and she shifted direction.
Wickes' first Broadway appearance was in Marc Connelly's The Farmer Takes a Wife in 1934 with Henry Fonda. She began acting in films in the late 1930s and was a member of the Orson Welles troupe on his radio drama The Mercury Theatre on the Air; she also appeared in Welles' film Too Much Johnson (1938). One of her earliest significant film appearances was in The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), reprising her stage role of "Nurse Preen".
A tall (5'10"), gangling woman with a distinctive voice, Wickes would ultimately prove herself adept as a comedian. She attracted attention in Now, Voyager (1942) as the wisecracking nurse who helped Bette Davis's character during her mother's illness. (She had already appeared earlier that year with Davis in The Man Who Came To Dinner, and joined her again six years later in June Bride). In 1942, she also had a large part in the Abbott and Costello comedy Who Done It?. She continued playing supporting roles in films during the next decade, usually playing wisecracking characters. A prime example was her deadpan characterization of the harassed housekeeper in the Doris Day vehicles On Moonlight Bay and By the Light of the Silvery Moon, a character type she would repeat in the holiday classic White Christmas (1954), starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. She played similar roles in two later movies with Rosalind Russell in the 1960s: The Trouble with Angels and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows.
Wickes moved to the new medium of television in 1949, starring in the title role of a Westinghouse Studio One version of Mary Poppins. In the 1950s, Wickes played the warm yet jocular maid Katie in the Mickey Mouse Club serial Annette and regular roles in the sitcoms Make Room for Daddy and Dennis the Menace. She also played the part of a ballet teacher, Madame Lamond, in the I Love Lucy episode "The Ballet" (1952). Wickes also served as the live-action reference model for Cruella De Vil in Walt Disney's One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), and played Mrs. Squires in the film adaptation of Meredith Willson's The Music Man (1962).
In 1953, Wickes played the housekeeper, Martha, to Ezio Pinza's character in NBC's short-lived Bonino sitcom. Pinza portrayed an Italian-American opera singer trying to rear six children. Among the child actors on the program were Van Dyke Parks and Chet Allen. In 1954-55, she played Alice on The Halls of Ivy.
In 1956, Wickes appeared with Thelma Ritter in "The Babysitter" episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Wickes also appeared in two episodes of Zorro. In the 1961-62 season, she appeared as Maxfield opposite Gertrude Berg in CBS's Mrs. G. Goes to College. For her work in the sitcom, Wickes was nominated for an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actress". In 1964, she appeared on ABC's The Donna Reed Show in the episode "First Addition."
In 1964, she appeared as Ida Goff in five episodes of the NBC/Warner Brothers western series, Temple Houston, with Jeffrey Hunter as an historical figure, the frontier lawyer Temple Lea Houston, youngest son of Sam Houston.
A longtime friend of Lucille Ball, Wickes played frequent guest roles on I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, and Here's Lucy. In 1970-1971, she guest starred on CBS's The Doris Day Show (Day was another of her friends). She was also a regular on the Sid and Marty Krofft children's television show, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, and the sitcom Doc. She made numerous appearances as a celebrity panelist on the CBS game show Match Game. By the 1980s, her appearances in television series such as Our Man Higgins, M*A*S*H, The Love Boat, Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Murder, She Wrote had made her a widely recognizable character actress. She also appeared in a variety of Broadway shows, including a 1979 revival of Oklahoma! as "Aunt Eller".
She was cast as the mother of Shirley MacLaine's character in the film Postcards from the Edge (1990) and portrayed Marie Murkin in the television movie and series adaptations of Father Dowling Mysteries (1989-91). She played Sister Mary Lazarus in Sister Act (1992) and in the sequel Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993). She appeared in the film version of Little Women (1994) before she became ill.
Death and legacy
Wickes suffered from numerous ailments in the last years of her life including kidney failure, massive gastrointestinal bleeding, severe low blood pressure, ischemic cardiomyopathy, anemia and breast cancer (stage of cancer unknown), which cumulatively resulted in her death from surgical complications on October 22, 1995, at age 85.
Her final film role, voicing the gargoyle Laverne in Disney's animated feature The Hunchback of Notre Dame was released posthumously in 1996. Wickes had reportedly only one voice recording session left for the film when she passed. Jane Withers came in to finish the character's remaining six lines of dialogue. She was interred beside her parents at the Shiloh Valley Cemetery in Shiloh, Illinois.
Unmarried and without children, Wickes left a large estate and made a $2 million bequest, in memory of her parents, establishing the Isabella and Frank Wickenhauser Memorial Library Fund for Television, Film and Theater Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.
- n.b. for credit listings reference
|1942||The Man Who Came to Dinner||Nurse Preen|
|Blondie's Blessed Event||Sarah Miller|
|Private Buckaroo||Bonnie-Belle Schlopkiss|
|The Mayor of 44th Street||Mamie|
|Now, Voyager||Nurse Dora Pickford|
|Who Done It?||Juliet Collins|
|1943||How's About It||'Mike' Tracy|
|Rhythm of the Islands||Susie Dugan|
|My Kingdom for a Cook||Agnes Willoughby||Uncredited role|
|Higher and Higher||Sandy|
|1948||June Bride||Rosemary McNally|
|The Decision of Christopher Blake||Clara|
|1950||The Petty Girl||Professor Whitman|
|1951||On Moonlight Bay||Stella||Based loosely on the Penrod stories by Booth Tarkington.|
|I'll See You in My Dreams||Anna|
|1952||Young Man with Ideas||Mrs. Jarvis Gilpin|
|The Story of Will Rogers||Mrs. Foster||Biography of humorist and movie star Will Rogers|
|Bloodhounds of Broadway||Lady at Laundry||Uncredited role|
|1953||By the Light of the Silvery Moon||Stella||Sequel to On Moonlight Bay|
|Half a Hero||Mrs. Watts|
|The Actress||Emma Glavey|
|1954||Ma and Pa Kettle at Home||Ms. Wetter|
|White Christmas||Emma Allen|
|Destry||Bessie Mae Curtis|
|1955||Good Morning Miss Dove||Miss Ellwood|
|1956||Dance with Me Henry||Miss Mayberry||Final film of Abbott and Costello together|
|1957||Don't Go Near the Water||Janie|
|1958||The Proud Rebel||Mrs. Ainsley||Uncredited role|
|1959||It Happened to Jane||Matilda Runyon||Re-released in 1961 as Twinkle and Shine|
|1960||Cimarron||Mrs. Neal Hefner|
|1961||One Hundred and One Dalmatians||Cruella De Vil||Animation model|
|The Sins of Rachel Cade||Marie Grieux|
|1962||The Music Man||Mrs. Squires (Pick-a-little Ladies)||In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".|
|1964||Fate Is the Hunter||Mrs. Llewlyn|
|Dear Heart||Miss Fox|
|1965||How to Murder Your Wife||Harold's secretary|
|1966||The Trouble with Angels||Sister Clarissa|
|1967||The Spirit Is Willing||Gloria Tritt|
|1968||Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows||Sister Clarissa||Sequel to The Trouble with Angels|
|1972||Napoleon and Samantha||Clara|
|Snowball Express||Miss Wigginton|
|1980||Touched by Love||Margaret||Also called To Elvis, with Love|
|1985||The Canterville Ghost||Mrs. Umney|
|1986||The Christmas Gift||Henrietta Sawyer|
|1990||Postcards from the Edge||Grandma||Screenplay by Carrie Fisher is based on her 1987 semi-autobiographical novel of the same title|
|1992||Sister Act||Sister Mary Lazarus|
|1993||Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit||Sister Mary Lazarus||Sequel to Sister Act|
|1994||Little Women||Aunt March|
|1996||The Hunchback of Notre Dame||Laverne||
|1935||Watch the Birdie||Uncredited role|
|1938||Too Much Johnson||Mrs. Battison|
|1939||Seeing Red||Mrs. Smith||Uncredited role|
|1942||Keeping Fit||Ann||Andy's wife|
|1972||Open Window||Mrs. Sappleton|
|1948||Actors Studio||Guest star||Episodes:
|1949||Ford Theatre||Daisy Stanley||Episode: "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (S 1:Ep 4)|
|The Philco Television Playhouse||Amelia Coop||Episode: "Dark Hammock" (S 1:Ep 18)|
|Studio One in Hollywood||Mary Poppins||Episode: "Mary Poppins" (S 2:Ep 15)|
|1950||The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre||Guest star||Episode: "Highly Recommended" (S 2:Ep 36)|
|1951||Four Star Revue||Guest host||Episode: "December 22, 1951" (S 2:Ep 17)|
|1952||I Love Lucy||Madame Lamond||Episode: "The Ballet" (S 1:Ep 19)|
|Studio One in Hollywood||Guest star||Episode: "Miss Hargreaves" (S 4:Ep 28)|
|1953–64||The Danny Thomas Show||Liz O'Neal||
|1954||Studio One in Hollywood||Guest star||Episode: "The Runaway" (S 6:Ep 16)|
|1954–55||The Halls of Ivy||Alice||Many episodes are missing so that some credits and episode titles are unknown.|
|1955||The Alcoa Hour||Sally Brass||Episode: "The Small Servant" (S 1:Ep 2)|
|1956||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Mrs. Armstedder||Episode: "The Baby Sitter" (S 1:Ep 32)|
|Mrs. Foster||Episode: "Toby" (S 2:Ep 6)|
|1957||Playhouse 90||Grace||Episode: "Circle of the Day" (S 1:Ep 35)|
|1958||Annette||Katy||Television serial that ran on The Mickey Mouse Club during the show's third season (1957-1958)|
|1959–62||Dennis the Menace||Esther Cathcart||Recurring role|
|1959||Ford Startime||Widow Parke||Episode: "Cindy's Fella" (S 1:Ep 11)|
|1960||Shirley Temple Theatre||Hannah||Episode: "Little Men" (S 1:Ep 6)|
|1961–62||Mrs. G. Goes to College||Maxfield||Mid-season changed to The Gertrude Berg Show|
|1961||The Dinah Shore Chevy Show||Edith Gunther||Episode: "Autumn Crocus" (S 5:Ep 20)|
|Shirley Temple Theatre||Lootie||Episode: "The Princess and the Goblins" (S 1:Ep 24)|
|1963–64||Temple Houston||Ida Goff||Main cast|
|1963||Bonanza||Martha||Episode: "The Colonel" (S 4:Ep 15)|
|Our Man Higgins||Mme. Amethyst||Episode: "Love is Dandy" (S 1:Ep 33)|
|The Lucy Show||Frances||Episodes:
|Kraft Suspense Theatre||Mrs. Mike||Episode: "The Machine That Played God" (S 1:Ep 7)|
|Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Nurse||Episode: "It's Mental Work" (S 1:Ep 9)|
|Nurse||Episode: "Lucy and Harry's Tonsils" (S 2:Ep 5)|
|The Doris Day Show||Emma Flood||Episode: "The Buddy" (S 1:Ep 17)|
|The Queen & I||Hazel Becker||Episode: "Requiem for Becker" (S 1:Ep 4)|
|1970||The Debbie Reynolds Show||Aunt Harriet||Episode: "Advice and Dissent" (S 1:Ep 18)|
|Here's Lucy||Mrs. Whitmark's Maid||Episode: "Lucy, the Diamond Cutter" (S 3:Ep 10)|
|1971||Here's Lucy||Sister Paula Carter||Episode: "Lucy and Her All-Nun Band" (S 4:Ep 8)|
|Columbo||Landlady||Episode: "Suitable for Framing" (S 1:Ep 6)|
|The Man and the City||Cora||Episode: "Running Scared" (S 1:Ep 8)|
|1972||Here's Lucy||Nurse Sylvia Ogilvy||Episodes:
|Hallmark Hall of Fame||Nurse Preen||
|Sanford and Son||Mary||Episode: "The Light Housekeeper" (S 2:Ep 14)|
|1973||Here's Lucy||Violet Barker||Episode: "Lucy Plays Cops and Robbers" (S 6:Ep 14)|
|1973–75||Sigmund and the Sea Monsters||Zelda Marshall||Main cast|
|1974||Here's Lucy||Clara Simpson||Episode: "Lucy, the Sheriff" (S 6:Ep 18)|
|Kolchak: The Night Stalker||Dr. Bess Winestock||Episode: "They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be..." (S 1:Ep 3)|
|1975–76||Doc||Nurse Beatrice Tully||Main cast|
|1975||M*A*S*H||Colonel Rachel Reese||Episode: "House Arrest" (S 3:Ep 18)|
|1981||The Waltons||Octavia||Episode: "The Hostage" (S 9:Ep 21)|
|Trapper John, M.D.||Miranda||Episode: "Hate is Enough" (S 3:Ep 4)|
|1982||Trapper John, M.D.||Hazel||Episode: "The Good Life" (S 4:Ep 9)|
|1984||Matt Houston||Nellie Cochran||Episode: "Wanted Man" (S 3:Ep 1)|
|Punky Brewster||Sister Bernadette||Episode: "Take Me out to the Ballgame" (S 1:Ep 6)|
|Trapper John, M.D.||Rocy Flanagan||Episode: "Of Cats, Crashes, and Creeps" (S 6:Ep 6)|
|1985||ABC Afterschool Special||Ms. Crandall||Episode: "First the Egg" (S 13:Ep 6)|
|Murder, She Wrote||Mrs. Alva Carne||Episode: "Widow, Weep for Me" (S 2:Ep 1)|
|1987||Almost Partners||Aggie Greyson||Made for TV|
|1987–91||Father Dowling Mysteries||Marie Murkin||Main cast|
|1987||Punky Brewster||Mrs. Dempsey||Episode: "So Long, Studio" (S 3:Ep 19)|
|1988||Highway to Heaven||Minnie||Episode: "Country Doctor" (S 4:Ep 14)|
|1995||Life With Louie||Voice of Grandma||Main cast|
Awards and nominations
|1962||Emmy Award||Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actress||Nominated|||
- U.S. Census, 1920, State of Missouri, City of St. Louis, enumeration district 410, p. 18-B, family 470.
- U.S. Census, 1880, State of Missouri, City of St. Louis, enumeration district 333, p. 160-A, family 147.
- "In Character: The Life and Legacy of Mary Wickes". omeka.wustl.edu. Retrieved 2015-06-08.
- Maltin, Leonard (host) (2008). Walt Disney Treasures: The Mickey Mouse Club Presents Annette (DVD). Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
- Bonino profile at IMDb
- "The Gertrude Berg Show, Emmy nominations:". IMDB. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- "OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE BY AN ACTRESS - 1962". emmys.com. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- "Mary Wickes". Intenet Movie Data Base. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), p. 107
- St. Louis Walk of Fame. "St. Louis Walk of Fame Inductees". stlouiswalkoffame.org. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- Everett, Martha (1998-04-16). "Mary Wickes' bequest to fund library collection in film, theatre, television". Newsroom / Washington University in St. Louis. Washington University in St. Louis. Retrieved 2015-01-15.
- "Mary Wikes : Credit Listings". TV.com. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- "The Man Who Came to Dinner". IBDB.com. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- "The Man Who Came to Dinner". TCM. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- Prouty, Olive Higgins (December 13, 2013). "Now, Voyager". ISBN 9781558614765. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- "National Film Registry.". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
- Arnold, Jeremy. "White Christmas". TCM. Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- "It Happened To Jane". TCM. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- Clemmensen, Christian. "Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004) tribute.". Filmtracks.com. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- "Notes: Fate Is the Hunter.". TCM. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- "Film Threat's Top 10 Lost Films". Film Threat (filmthreat.com). January 25, 2001. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- Kehr, Dave. "Early Film by Orson Welles Is Rediscovered". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- "Preserved Films: "Too Much Johnson" Work Print (1938, 66 min.)". National Film Preservation Foundation. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- Alex McNeil, Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, 1997, p. 355 Retrieved April 17, 2015.
- Ohmart, Ben. It's That Time Again. (2002) (Albany: BearManor Media) ISBN 0-9714570-2-6
- Cotter, Bill (1997). The Wonderful World of Disney Television. New York: Hyperion Books. ISBN 0-7868-6359-5.
- The Best of 1972 ... and the Worst - Free Preview - The New York Times