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William Hickey

William Hickey

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Also Known As: Died: June 29, 1997
Born: September 19, 1928 Cause of Death: emphysema and bronchitis
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: actor, acting teacher, dancer, assistant stage manager, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

His stooped posture, desiccated appearance, and frog-like speaking voice made William Hickey a natural to play weirdoes in Hollywood films - a résumé that belied his distinguished career in theatre. Developing a taste for performing as a child at the Henry Street Settlement on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Hickey began teaching acting after World War II and joined the staff of Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof's acclaimed HB Studio in Greenwich Village in 1957. Better known as an acting coach than as an actor, Hickey guided the likes of Steve McQueen and Barbra Streisand while playing bits in such films as "The Boston Strangler" (1968), "Little Big Man" (1970), and "Mikey and Nicky" (1976). John Huston had cast him in a small role in "Wise Blood" (1979) but called the 57-year-old actor back to play an octogenarian Mafia don in "Prizzi's Honor" (1985), which earned Hickey an Oscar nomination and a measure of popular appeal. For horror movie fans, he was unforgettable as the "Puppetmaster" (1989), as the millionaire who hires a hitman to kill his cat in "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie" (1990), and as the voice of the mad Dr. Finkelstein in Tim Burton's stop-motion fantasia "The Nightmare Before...

His stooped posture, desiccated appearance, and frog-like speaking voice made William Hickey a natural to play weirdoes in Hollywood films - a résumé that belied his distinguished career in theatre. Developing a taste for performing as a child at the Henry Street Settlement on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Hickey began teaching acting after World War II and joined the staff of Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof's acclaimed HB Studio in Greenwich Village in 1957. Better known as an acting coach than as an actor, Hickey guided the likes of Steve McQueen and Barbra Streisand while playing bits in such films as "The Boston Strangler" (1968), "Little Big Man" (1970), and "Mikey and Nicky" (1976). John Huston had cast him in a small role in "Wise Blood" (1979) but called the 57-year-old actor back to play an octogenarian Mafia don in "Prizzi's Honor" (1985), which earned Hickey an Oscar nomination and a measure of popular appeal. For horror movie fans, he was unforgettable as the "Puppetmaster" (1989), as the millionaire who hires a hitman to kill his cat in "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie" (1990), and as the voice of the mad Dr. Finkelstein in Tim Burton's stop-motion fantasia "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993). Diagnosed with emphysema, Hickey continued to work exhaustively in films and television. He was teaching up to two weeks before his death in July 1997, showing his commitment to the craft that had changed his life and enabled him to make a living.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Knocking on Death's Door (2000) Town Sheriff
2.
 Mouse Hunt (1997) Rudolf Smuntz
3.
 Twisted (1997) Andre
4.
 Maddening, The (1996)
5.
 Cul-de-sac (1996)
6.
 Love Is All There Is (1996) Monsignor
7.
 Major Payne (1995) Dr Phillips
8.
 Forget Paris (1995) Arthur
9.
 Jerky Boys, The (1995) Uncle Freddy
10.
 Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Voice Of Evil Scientist
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1938:
Began acting career on radio at the age of nine (date approximate)
1948:
Acted off-Broadway at age 20 in the play, "Bury the Dead"; studied acting with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof at their HB Studios (date approximate)
:
First taught acting to children at a community center in New York City's Lower East Side, the Henry Street Settlement, when he was in his early twenties
1951:
Broadway debut, "Saint Joan"; production starred Uta Hagen, with Hickey as an extra
1952:
Worked as assistant stage manager and actor in "Tovarich" on Broadway
:
Appeared on "Camera Three", "Philco Playhouse" and other live TV dramas in the 1950s
1957:
Film debut, "A Hatful of Rain"
1957:
Began teaching acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio in New York
1959:
First TV special, played the Artful Dodger in "Oliver Twist" ("Dupont Show of the Month")
1961:
Stage directing debut, "All You Need Is One Good Break" at the Phoenicia Playhouse, Phoenicia NY
:
Joined American Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford Connecticut for six seasons during the 1960s
1967:
Returned to feature films after a decade to act in Mel Brooks' fondly remembered satire, "The Producers"
1979:
Last film for six years, John Huston's "Wise Blood"
1982:
Acted in an off-Broadway revival of the Moliere play, "Don Juan", directed by Richard Foreman
1984:
Succeeded Philip Pleasants in the role of Ralph Waldo Emerson in the off-Broadway play, "Romance Language"
1985:
Returned to features to act a breakthrough role in another John Huston film, "Prizzi's Honor"; received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor
1985:
Began acting regularly on TV with a role in his first TV-movie, "Izzy and Moe"
1986:
Acted the role of Dr. Einstein on Broadway in the revival of the 1940s Joseph Kesselring farce, "Arsenic and Old Lace"
:
TV series debut as regular, "Baby Talk", an ABC sitcom in which he played the role of Fogarty
:
Played recurring role of Carlton Blanchard on the NBC sitcom, "Wings"
1997:
Final features, "Twisted" and "Mousehunt" (released posthumously)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Lilli Afan. Survived him.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Edward Hickey.
mother:
Nora Hickey.
sister:
Dorothy Finn. Survived him.

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