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Subject: FUN FACT: October 22, 1995 ~It was 25 years ago today, Hollywood character actress extraordinaire MARY WICKES, who was cast often playing supporting roles as prim, professional women, secretaries, nurses, nuns, and housekeepers, who made sarcastic quips when the leading characters fell short of her high standards in films like "Now, Voyager", "White Christmas", and "Sister Act", dies at 85. ...
American film and television actress. She often played supporting roles as prim, professional women, secretaries,
nurses, nuns, and housekeepers, who made sarcastic quips when the leading characters fell short of her high standards.
Early life ...
Mary Wickes was born to Frank Wickenhauser (18801943) 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 and graduated at 16 from Beaumont High School. She was accepted into Washington University in St. Louis, where she joined the debate team and the Phi Mu sorority, 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's 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's film Too Much Johnson (1938).
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). ...
Wickes played as 'Nurse Dora Pickford', 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 Martha the housekeeper to Ezio Pinza's character in the short-lived Bonino. In 195455, she played Alice on The Halls of Ivy, starring Ronald Colman. 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 196162 season, she appeared as Maxfield opposite Gertrude Berg and Cedric Hardwicke in 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 The Donna Reed Show in the episode "First Addition".
In 1964, she appeared as Ida Goff in five episodes of the series Temple Houston, with Jeffrey Hunter as a historical figure, the frontier lawyer
Temple Lea Houston, youngest son of Sam Houston. She played Adeline Ashley in a 1967 episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, "The Social Climbers".
...A longtime friend of Lucille Ball, Wickes played frequent guest roles on I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, and Here's Lucy. In 19701971, she guest starred on 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 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, for which she received rave reviews.
Later career ...
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 The Father Dowling Mysteries (198991). 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. ...
Her final film role, voicing Laverne in Disney's animated feature The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was released posthumously in 1996. Wickes reportedly
had only one voice recording session left for the film when she died. Jane Withers came in to finish the character's remaining six lines of dialogue.
Death and legacy ...
Wickes suffered from numerous ailments in the last years of her life that cumulatively resulted in her hospitalization, where
she fell and broke her hip, prompting surgery. She died of complications following that surgery on October 22, 1995, aged 85. ...
...She was interred beside her parents at the Shiloh Valley Cemetery in Shiloh, Ill.
Wickes was inducted posthumously into the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 2004.
Personal life ...
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. Wickes was a lifelong Republican.