William Hickey, c. 1960s
William Edward Hickey
September 19, 1927
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||June 29, 1997 (aged 69)|
New York City, U.S.
|Height||5 ft 6 in (168 cm)|
William Edward Hickey (September 19, 1927 – June 29, 1997) was an American actor. He is best known for his Academy Award-nominated role as Don Corrado Prizzi in the John Huston film Prizzi's Honor (1985), as well as Uncle Lewis in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) and the voice of Dr. Finklestein in Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).
Hickey had a long, distinguished career in film, television and the stage. He began his career as a child actor on the variety stage and made his Broadway debut as a walk-on in the 1951 production of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, starring Uta Hagen. He performed often during the golden age of television, including appearances on Studio One and Philco Playhouse. His most important contribution to the arts, however, remains his teaching career at the HB Studio in Greenwich Village, founded by Hagen and Herbert Berghof. George Segal, Sandy Dennis, Barbra Streisand, and Sandra McClain all studied under him. He was a staple of Ben Bagley's New York musical revues, he can be heard on several of the recordings, notably Decline and fall of the entire world as seen through the eyes of Cole Porter.
Hickey enjoyed a career in film, television and theater. In addition to his work as an actor, he was a respected teacher of the craft. Notable for his unique, gravelly voice and somewhat offbeat appearance, Hickey, in his later years, was often cast in "cantankerous-but-clever old man" roles. His characters, who sometimes exuded an underlying air of the macabre, usually had the last laugh over their more sprightly co-stars. One of his early roles was a suspect in the 1968 film The Boston Strangler starring Tony Curtis.
His most notable onscreen role was that of the gravelly voiced Don Corrado Prizzi in Prizzi's Honor (1985), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Hickey portrayed Don Corrado as sharp-witted and cunning, despite his frail physical state, and shared key scenes with Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson.
Hickey died from emphysema and bronchitis in 1997. His remains are interred in the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn. He died during the filming of Uzo's Better Than Ever, and his role was played by the producer in a pick-up shot depicting his character in the hospital. His final movie, Knocking on Death's Door (in which he plays the town sheriff), was released nearly two years after his death. The movie Mouse Hunt (in which he also appeared) is dedicated to his memory.
New York City theatre
- Miss Lonelyhearts (1957)
- The Body Beautiful (1958)
- Happy Birthday, Wanda June (1970)
- Small Craft Warnings (1972)
- Mourning Becomes Electra (1972)
- Thieves (1974)
- Arsenic and Old Lace (1986)
- A Hatful of Rain (1957) – Apples (film debut)
- Operation Mad Ball (1957) – G.I. Sampson (uncredited)
- Something Wild (1961) – Bit Part (uncredited)
- Invitation to a Gunfighter (1964) – Jo-Jo
- The Producers (1967) – The Drunk in bar (credited as "Bill Hickey")
- The Boston Strangler (1968) – Eugene T O'Rourke
- Little Big Man (1970) – Historian
- A New Leaf (1971) – Smith (uncredited)
- The Telephone Book (1971) – Man in Bed
- Happy Birthday, Wanda June (1971) – Looseleaf Harper
- 92 In The Shade (1975) – Mr. Skelton
- Mikey & Nicky (1976) – Sid Fine
- The Sentinel (1977) – Perry, a shady locksmith
- Nunzio (1978)
- Wise Blood (1979) – Preacher
- A Stranger Is Watching (1982) – Maxi
- Prizzi's Honor (1985) – Don Corrado Prizzi
- Walls of Glass (1985) – Papa
- Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) – The Coney Island Barker
- One Crazy Summer (1986) – Old Man Beckersted
- Seize the Day (1986) – Perls
- Stranded (1986, TV movie) - Mr. Pierson
- The Name of the Rose (1986) – Ubertino da Casale
- A Hobo's Christmas (1987, TV Movie) – Cincinnati Harold
- Bright Lights, Big City (1988) – Ferret Man
- Da (1988) – Drumm
- Starlight: A Musical Movie (1988) – Billy Davis
- Pink Cadillac (1989) – Mr. Barton
- Sea of Love (1989) – Frank Keller, Sr.
- Puppet Master (1989) – André Toulon
- It Had to Be You (1989) – Schornberg
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) – Uncle Lewis
- Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) – Drogan (in the "Cat From Hell" segment)
- Any Man's Death (1990) – Erich Schiller / Ernst Bauricke
- My Blue Heaven (1990) – Billy Sparrow
- Mob Boss (1990) – Don Anthony
- Sons (1990) – Roger
- The Runestone (1991) – Lars Hagstrom
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – Doctor Finklestein (voice)
- Hey Stranger (1994) – Major-domo
- The Jerky Boys: The Movie (1995) – Don 'Uncle Freddy' Frederico
- Major Payne (1995) – Dr. Phillips
- Forget Paris (1995) – Arthur
- The Maddening (1995) – Roy's deceased father
- Love Is All There Is (1996) – Monsignor
- Twisted (1997) – Andre
- Mouse Hunt (1997) – Rudolf Smuntz
- Better Than Ever (1997) – Walter
- Knocking on Death's Door (1999) – Town Sheriff
- A tekerölantos naplója (1999) – (final film role)
- Tales From The Crypt (Season Two, "The Switch") – Carlton Webster
- Baby Talk – Mr. Fogarty
- Between Time and Timbuktu – Stony Stevenson
- The Equalizer – elderly blind con man
- Moonlighting – Mr. Kendall
- Miami Vice - (Season 5, "Victims of Circumstance")
- The Outer Limits – (Episode "White Light Fever")
- Wings – Carlton Blanchard
- The Adventures of Pete & Pete – Grandpa Wrigley
- Spenser: For Hire – Gus Harley
- Appearances in L.A. Law, The Phil Silvers Show, Tales from the Crypt, Miami Vice, Crime Story, The Tracey Ullman Show, Tales from the Darkside, Spenser: For Hire and Hallmark Hall of Fame.
|1985||Prizzi's Honor||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|LAFCA Award for Best Supporting Actor||Runner-up*|
|NSFC Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1990||Tales From The Crypt||Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Season 2, Episode 8: "The Switch"
- William Hickey – Bucks County Playhouse roles Archived April 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- William Hickey Biography – Yahoo! Movies Archived March 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Van Gelder, Lawrence. "William Hickey, Actor, 69, Dies; Played a Wise Old Don in Prizzi", The New York Times, July 1, 1997. Accessed March 4, 2019. "Mr. Hickey, born in Brooklyn, said his upbringing in Flatbush and in Richmond Hill, Queens, in a close Irish family helped him to understand the family loyalty of the murderous Prizzis."
- HB Studio Alumni
- "MouseHunt summary".