Sunday, January 9, 2022

Godspeed Dwayne Hickman

Dwayne Hickman, best known for playing Dobie Gillis in the sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, died today, January 9 2022, at the age of 87. The cause was complications from Parkinson's disease.

Dwayne Hickman was born on May 18 1934 in Los Angeles. His older brother was actor Darryl Hickman, who appeared in such films as The Grapes of Wrath (1940) Leave Her To Heaven (1947). Dwayne Hickman received his first credited role when he was nine years old with the film Captain Eddie (1945). In the late Forties he appeared in several movies, including The Return of Rusty (1946), The Secret Heart (1946), The Boy with Green Hair (1948), and The Happy Years (1950). He appeared in six of Columbia's eight "Rusty" films, which followed the adventures of a dog named Rusty.

Dwayne Hickman made his television debut in an episode of The Lone Ranger in 1951. It was in 1955 that he began playing the regular role of Chuck McDonald, the girl crazy, teenage nephew of Bob Collins (Bob Cummings) on The Bob Cummings Show. It was his role on The Bob Cummings Show that would lead him being cast in the title role on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. While Mr. Hickman played the teen-aged Dobie on the show, he was 25 years old at the time. During the Fifties Dwayne Hickman guest starred on such shows as Public Defender, The Loretta Young Show, Lux Video Theatre, The Stu Erwin Show, Waterfront, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and Men of Annapolis. He appeared in the movie Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958) and provided the voice of Mr. Magoo's nephew in the animated feature 1001 Arabian Nights (1959).

In the Sixties Dwayne Hickman continued to star on Dobie Gillis. After the show's end he guest starred on such shows as The Greatest Show on Earth, Valentine's Day, Wagon Train, Combat!, Vacation Playhouse, Ironside, Insight, The Flying Nun, My Friend Tony, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Colour, The Mod Squad, and Love, American Style. Mr. Hickman appeared in several of American International Pictures' "Beach Party" movies and films related to the "Beach Party" films, including Ski Party (1965), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), Sergeant Dead Head (1965), and Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965). He played the con man Jed in the classic Cat Ballou (1965) and also appeared in the movie Doctor, You've Got Be Kidding! (1967).

In the Seventies Dwayne Hickman guest starred on the TV shows Love, American Style; Karen; Kolchak: The Night Stalker; and Ellery Queen. He reprised his role as Dobie Gillis in the failed pilot Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis?. In the Seventies he worked for a time as entertainment director for Howard Hughes’ Landmark Hotel in Las Vegas. From 1977 to 1988 he was a programming executive at CBS.

In the Eighties Dwayne Hickman reprised his role as Dobie Gillis in the television reunion movie Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis in 1988. He also appeared in the TV movie High School U.S.A. and he guest stared on the show Murder, She Wrote. In 1989 he began directing TV shows. From the Eighties into the Nineties, Dwayne Hickman directed such shows as Duet, Charles in Charge, Open House, Designing Women, Get a Life, Head of the Class, Harry and the Hendersons, and Sister, Sister.

In the Nineties Dwayne Hickman played the recurring role of Tripp Mariens, the father of the character Amber (Elisa Donovan) on the TV show Clueless. He reprised his role as Dobie Gillis in a guest appearance on the show Hi Honey, I'm Home. He appeared in the movies Cops n Roberts (1995) and A Night at the Roxbury (1998). He made a cameo in the 2001 TV movie Surviving Gilligan's Island: The Incredibly True Story of the Longest Three Hour Tour in History in 2001. His last appearance was a cameo in the movie Angels with Angles (2005).

Later in life Dwayne Hickman developed painting as a hobby.

I have been a fan of Dobie Gillis since I first saw it in reruns when I was young. Dwayne Hickman was perfect in the role of Dobie, the at times scheming teenager who wants money, popularity, and, to paraphrase the show's theme song, a girl to call his own. Mr. Hickman's was convincing as Dobie, which was remarkable given he was 25 at the time. Dwayne Hickman also did well in the role of Bob's nephew Chuck on The Bob Cummings Show. Chuck was always trying to get his Uncle Bob's attention, not to mention having his head turned by some pretty girl or another.

Of course, while Dwayne Hickman will always remain best known as Dobie Gillis, he played other roles. In Cat Ballou he played Jed, the con man who disguises himself as a preacher to spring his nephew from jail. In Doctor, You've Got Be Kidding, he played a shoe salesman who is an actor on the side. As an actor he specializes in death scenes.In the Ellery Queen episode "The Adventure of the Wary Witness," he played one of Ellery's old school chums accused of murdering a mobster. Dwayne Hickman could play a variety of roles and he had a real gift for comedy. His timing was perfect. While he'll always be remembered as Dobie Gillis, he did so much more.


Caftan Woman said...

2022 is not shaping up to be a particularly joyful year when it comes to the entertaining and talented people who gave us their talents.

Personally, I thought Hickman's performance in Cat Ballou absolutely stole the movie, and that is a movie with a lot of scene-stealers. Dwayne Hickman did it so subtly.

Hal said...

Hickman said Jed in CAT BALLOU was his favorite role in FOREVER DOBIE.

It's a really fun read, particularly the Las Vegas stories and the behind the scenes info on LOVE THAT BOB and DOBIE GILLIS.

Ironically, Parkinson's also claimed Cummings in 1990.