Mary Wickes


Actor
Mary Wickes

About

Also Known As
Mary Isabelle Wickenhauser
Birth Place
St Louis, Missouri, USA
Born
June 13, 1910
Died
October 22, 1995
Cause of Death
Complications Following Surgery

Biography

A tall, lanky character actress, Wickes was a durable and invaluable comedy player of innumerable housekeepers, nurses and nuns. With her gawky frame, deliciously angular features and famous recessed chin, she wisecracked, busybodied and nosed her way through almost 20 Broadway plays, hundreds of stock productions, ten TV series, countless small-screen guest spots and nearly 50 feature f...

Notes

According to CINEFANTASTIQUE (in the course of its extensive coverage of the Disney animated remake of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in the June 1996 issue), Wickes was reportedly the live-action model for the villainess Cruella De Vil in the Disney animated classic "101 Dalmations" (1961).

Biography

A tall, lanky character actress, Wickes was a durable and invaluable comedy player of innumerable housekeepers, nurses and nuns. With her gawky frame, deliciously angular features and famous recessed chin, she wisecracked, busybodied and nosed her way through almost 20 Broadway plays, hundreds of stock productions, ten TV series, countless small-screen guest spots and nearly 50 feature films. Wickes began on stage in the early 1930s and acted in five plays either written or directed by George S. Kaufman. Her breakthrough came when she hilariously played Miss Preen, the endlessly harassed nurse to the vituperative Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley) in Kaufman and Hart's "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (1939-40). Wickes later recreated her most famous role as her film debut in 1941, in a radio production starring Fred Allen and in a 1972 TV version with Orson Welles.

Once Hollywood had hold of Wickes, she proved she could dish up the guff as well as take it in "Now Voyager" (1942), "Happy Land" (1943), "June Bride" (1948), "On Moonlight Bay" (1951) and "It Happened to Jane" (1959). Wickes returned occasionally to Broadway in plays from "Hollywood Pinafore" (1945) to a revival of "Oklahoma!" (1979-80, as the warm and earthy Aunt Eller), but once TV caught on in the early 50s, Wickes found another ideal home in the sitcom. She could practically have declared her occupation as "housekeeper" on her income tax for the next few decades, for she played sharp-tongued but efficient and loyal factotums on "The Peter and Mary Show" (1950), "Bonino" (1953), "The Halls of Ivy" (1954), "Annette" (1958), "Sigmund & the Sea Monsters" (1973-75) and "The Father Dowling Mysteries" (1989-91). Wickes was also the first to play governess extraordinaire Mary Poppins on a "Studio One" production in the 50s. Her Emmy-nominated turn as the landlady on "Mrs. G. Goes to College" (1961-62), her doctor's wife on "Julia" (1968-71) and her crusty nurse on "Doc" (1975-76) were just so many welcome variations on a much-loved persona.

Feature work for Wickes continued with colorful roles in "The Music Man" (1962) and "Snowball Express" (1972). In "The Trouble with Angels" (1966) she played the bus-driving Sister Clarissa, a role she reprised for the lesser sequel, "Where Angels Go . . . Trouble Follows" (1968). Over the years, the tireless Wickes also began to teach seminars on acting in comedy at her alma mater, Washington University (which later awarded her an honorary doctorate), the College of William and Mary and the American Conservatory Theater. She did extensive volunteer nursing work and served as a board member of several prestigious medical institutions. (An episode of TV's "M*A*S*H," with Wickes as the most decorated nurse of the Korean War, was especially written for her.) In the 90s, Wickes returned to college to earn a Master's Degree at UCLA. She received her widest feature exposure in years as the hilarious Sister Mary Lazarus in "Sister Act" (1992) and its sequel, "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" (1993), and as Aunt March in "Little Women" (1994). Her final film credit was providing the voice of the gargoyle Laverne in Disney's animated "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1996).

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Voice
Little Women (1994)
Aunt March
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)
Sister Act (1992)
Postcards From The Edge (1990)
Grandma
Fatal Confession: A Father Dowling Mystery (1987)
The Christmas Gift (1986)
Henrietta Sawyer
Touched By Love (1980)
Margaret
Willa (1979)
Eunice
Snowball Express (1972)
Miss Wigginton
Napoleon and Samantha (1972)
Clerk
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1972)
Where Angels Go ... Trouble Follows! (1968)
Sister Clarissa
The Spirit Is Willing (1967)
Gloria Tritt
The Trouble With Angels (1966)
Sister Clarissa
How To Murder Your Wife (1965)
Harold's secretary
Fate Is the Hunter (1964)
Mrs. Llewelyn
Dear Heart (1964)
Miss Fox
The Music Man (1962)
Mrs. Squires
The Sins of Rachel Cade (1961)
Marie Grieux
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
101 Dalmatians (1961)
Voice
Cimarron (1960)
Mrs. Hefner
It Happened to Jane (1959)
Matilda Runyon
The Proud Rebel (1958)
Mrs. Ainsley
Don't Go Near the Water (1957)
Janie
Dance with Me, Henry (1956)
Miss Mayberry
Destry (1955)
Bessie Mae Curtis
Good Morning, Miss Dove (1955)
Miss Ellwood
Ma and Pa Kettle at Home (1954)
Miss Wetter
White Christmas (1954)
Emma Allen
The Actress (1953)
Emma Glavey
Half a Hero (1953)
Mrs. Watts
By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)
Stella
Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952)
Mother
The Story of Will Rogers (1952)
Mrs. Foster
Young Man With Ideas (1952)
Mrs. Gilpin
I'll See You In My Dreams (1952)
Anna
On Moonlight Bay (1951)
Stella
The Petty Girl (1950)
Professor Whitman
Anna Lucasta (1949)
Stella
June Bride (1948)
Rosemary McNally
The Decision of Christopher Blake (1948)
Clara
How's About It? (1943)
[Michele] "Mike" Tracy
Higher and Higher (1943)
Sandy Brooks
Rhythm of the Islands (1943)
Susie Dugan
My Kingdom for a Cook (1943)
Agnes Willoughby
Happy Land (1943)
Emmy
Now, Voyager (1942)
Dora Pickford
Who Done It? (1942)
Juliet Collins
Blondie's Blessed Event (1942)
Sarah Miller
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)
Miss Preen
The Mayor of 44th Street (1942)
Mamie
Private Buckaroo (1942)
Bonnie-Belle Schlopkiss

Cast (Special)

The Making of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Herself
ALF Loves a Mystery (1987)
Agatha Megpeace
Almost Partners (1987)
First the Egg (1985)
Ms Crandall
The Canterville Ghost (1985)
Mrs Umney
The Lucille Ball Special (1977)
Ma and Pa (1974)
Ma
Time Out For Ginger (1955)
Lizzie

Misc. Crew (Special)

The Making of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Other

Cast (Short)

Seeing Red (1939)

Life Events

1935

Appeared on Broadway in supporting role in the George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber comedy-drama, "Stage Door" (date approximate)

1941

Made feature film debut recreating her acclaimed stage role as Nurse Preen in the comedy, "The Man Who Came to Dinner"

1945

Acted on Broadway in the play, "Hollywood Pinafore"

1950

Played Miss Wickes, the housekeeper, on about half of the run of the NBC sitcom, "The Peter and Mary Show" (renamed "The Peter Lind Hayes Show" midway through its one-season run)

1953

Played Martha the housekeeper on the short-lived NBC sitcom, "Bonino"

1958

Played Katie the housekeeper on the short-lived ABC comedy series, "Annette", starring Annette Funicello

1969

First TV-movie, "The Monk"

1972

Last feature film for seven years, "Snowball Express"

1972

Recreated her Broadway and Hollywood feature role as the nurse in an NBC TV-movie adaptation of the stage comedy, "The Man Who Came to Dinner"

1979

Returned to films to play a role in the feature, "Touched By Love"

1990

Returned to films regularly with her role in the comedy-drama, "Postcards from the Edge"

1992

Played one of her most popular roles in features, Sister Mary Lazarus, in "Sister Act"; reprised the role for the 1993 sequel

1996

Final film credit, voiced Laverne, a gargoyle in Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"

Photo Collections

The Man Who Came to Dinner - Lobby Card
Here is a Lobby Card from Warner Bros' The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), starring Monty Woolley. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Music Man, The (1962) - Iowa Stubborn Just arrived on the train from Illinois, after an opening number confirming the disdain of other traveling salesmen for his scorched-earth methods, un-credentialed music professor Henry Hill (Robert Preston) hears from the folk of River City, Io-way about their own predisposition, in the hit Warner Bros. adaptation of the Meredith Willson musical, with Timmy Everett, and Paul Ford as the Mayor, in The Music Man, 1962.
Man Who Came To Dinner, The (1942) - A Lot Of Itinerant Firemen! Caustic radio celebrity Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley) and aide Maggie (Bette Davis) receive local newsman Bert Jefferson (Richard Travis) and paroled convicts in The Man Who Came To Dinner, 1942.
Man Who Came To Dinner, The (1942) - Cream Of Mush Actress Lorraine Sheldon (Ann Sheridan) plays her big scene leading into the bedlam before Maggie (Bette Davis) and Whiteside (Monty Woolley) launch his Christmas radio-remote broadcast in The Man Who Came to Dinner, 1942.
Man Who Came To Dinner, The (1942) - Touch Of A Love-Starved Cobra Signature Kaufman and Hart mayhem as the Stanleys (Billie Burke, Grant Mitchell) prepare for author Whiteside (Monty Woolley), with aide Maggie (Bette Davis) and nurse Preen (Mary Wickes), to emerge in The Man Who Came To Dinner, 1942.
Who Done It? (1942) -- Now Playing, Alcatraz! Would-be mystery writers Chick and Mervyn (Bud Abbott, Lou Costello) in the studio for the radio show, bothering writer Patrick Knowles, producer Louise Albritton, executive Thomas Gomez, Paul Dubov the radio actor, Mary Wickes with an exclamation, in Universal’s Who Done It?, 1942.
Trouble With Angels, The (1966) - Kim Novak Mary (Hayley Mills) and Rachel (June Harding) have just met en route to their new convent school, enlisting pals as they plot their first trick on Sister Clarissa (Mary Wickes) and the more imposing, top-billed Rosalind Russell (as "Mother Superior"), early in the 1966 hit The Trouble With Angels, directed by Ida Lupino.
Sins Of Rachel Cade, The - Insatiably Virtuous Staffer Marie (Mary Wickes) is nagging widowed Belgian (Congo) administrator DeRode (Peter Finch), both awaiting the arrival of their new missionary nurse Rachel (Angie Dickinson), early in The Sins Of Rachel Cade, 1961.
How To Murder Your Wife (1965) - Hit By A Truck Stanley (Jack Lemmon) brings new Italian bride (Virna Lisi) to see his scolding lawyer Harold (Eddie Mayehoff) seeking an instant divorce, whose assistant (Mary Wickes) and wife (Claire Trevor) join him in not cooperating, in How To Murder Your Wife, 1965, from writer-producer George Axelrod.
I'll See You In My Dreams - It Had To Be You A story of the genesis of his most famous song, lyricist Gus Kahn (Danny Thomas), sent away by his almost-in-labor wife Grace (Doris Day), with manager Fred (James Gleason), hears the tune by Isham Jones, then forgets himself, in I'll See You In My Dreams. 1952.

Trailer

Music Man, The (1962) -- (Original Trailer) A con artist hawks musical instruments to small towns in The Music Man (1962), based on the Broadway musical by Meredith Willson.
Cimarron (1960) - (Original Trailer) A pioneer couple plays a major role in the settling of Oklahoma in Cimarron (1960), directed by Anthony Mann and starring Glenn Ford & Maria Schell.
By the Light of the Silvery Moon - (Original Trailer) The life of a small-town girl (Doris Day) goes ballistic in the sequel to On Moonlight Bay, By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953).
Don't Go Near The Water - (Original Trailer) Navy office workers scheme to build a recreation hall on a remote Pacific island in the military comedy Don't Go Near The Water (1957) starring Glenn Ford.
White Christmas - (Original Trailer) Bing Crosby and the most popular song of all time in the colorful seasonal favorite, White Christmas (1954).
June Bride - (Original Trailer) Two bickering reporters turn a small-town wedding into a battleground in Warner Bros.' June Bride (1948), starring Bette Davis and Robert Montgomery.
Man Who Came to Dinner, The - (Original Trailer) An acerbic critic moves in with a Midwestern family during the holidays in The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942).
Half a Hero - (Original Trailer) Red Skelton is a married writer who moves to the suburbs to research a story in Half A Hero (1953) also starring Jean Hagen.
Actress, The - (Original Trailer) Jean Simmons stars in The Actress (1953), the true story of Ruth Gordon's early struggles on the road to stage stardom.
Where Angels Go...Trouble Follows - (Original Trailer) A young liberal nun (Stella Stevens) creates headaches for the Mother Superior (Rosalind Russell) in Where Angels Go...Trouble Follows (1968).
On Moonlight Bay - (Original Trailer) A small-town tomboy (Doris Day) falls for the boy-next-door in the years before World War I in On Moonlight Bay (1951).

Promo

Bibliography

Notes

According to CINEFANTASTIQUE (in the course of its extensive coverage of the Disney animated remake of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in the June 1996 issue), Wickes was reportedly the live-action model for the villainess Cruella De Vil in the Disney animated classic "101 Dalmations" (1961).