Darryl Hickman, Child Actor Who Became a Stage Star, Is Dead at 92

Darryl Hickman, Child Actor Who Became a Stage Star, Is Dead at 92

Darryl Hickman, who began acting in movies as a child in the 1940s and later performed on television and stage, starring in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, died on May 22 at his home in Montecito, California. He was 92.

Mr. Hickman portrayed the young son of character actor Mary Wickes in the 1949 film The Red Pony, directed by Academy Award winner Robert Wise, and he played scenes with such stars as Margaret O'Brien, Walter Brennan, and Robert Mitchum. In all, he appeared in more than 30 films and TV shows, including the popular “Dragnet” series.

But it was his career on stage that he cherished most, even if it lasted only a few years.

In 1960, Mr. Hickman succeeded Robert Morse as the star of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” a musical that told the story of a young man climbing the corporate ladder in a large company. Mr. Hickman played the lead for more than two years, winning rave reviews for enlivening the role of J. Pierrepont Finch with an earnestness and charm that resonated with audiences.

The musical, which premiered on Broadway in 1961, earned Mr. Hickman a Tony Award nomination for best actor, won a Pulitzer Prize, and ran for more than 1,400 performances. In 1967, he toured in the road show of “Cabaret,” starring as the Master of Ceremonies at the Kit Kat Klub. He also performed in a national tour of “Fiddler on the Roof,” playing Motel the Tailor.

Mr. Hickman told The Los Angeles Times in 1994 that his stage career ended in 1969 when he decided that he lacked the “devotion and dedication” necessary to continue succeeding. “It’s so easy to slip and slide and get sucked into the vortex of Hollywood,” he said. “It’s like taking a job in a bank so you can steal money.”

He returned to Hollywood, and to television, where he had begun acting in the early 1950s, appearing in episodes of “The Mickey Rooney Show,” “Zane Grey Theater,” “Wagon Train,” “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” “Dragnet,” and other series, often playing businessmen.

Mr. Hickman was born in Los Angeles on Jan. 13, 1926, to Albert Hickman, a film producer and director, and Myrtle Hickman, a screenwriter. He grew up on Beverly Glen Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills and attended University High School, now known as UCLA Community School.

He acted in student plays at UCLA, but his studies were interrupted by his burgeoning film career.

In addition to his acting roles, Mr. Hickman became known for his vocal talents, singing with bands and performing voice-over narration for documentaries and industrial films. As a narrator, he collaborated with his brother, Donald, a filmmaker, on several projects, including a 1967 experimental film titled “The Sound of Violence.”

Mr. Hickman taught acting for several years at the Film Actors Workshop in Los Angeles and at the University of Utah. He also coached and directed actors, including those with disabilities, for the Happy Wanderers Theater in Santa Barbara, California.

In 1995, he was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, joining his father, who was honored in 1958.

Mr. Hickman’s marriage to the former Joanne Randall ended in divorce. In addition to his former wife, he is survived by their three children, David, Lisa, and Nora; and five grandchildren.

His son, David, told The New York Times that his father had believed that his greatest achievement was convincing others to give him a chance.

“He never took himself too seriously,” his son said, “but he had an inner sense of his own worth, and that allowed him to take on challenges without fear.”

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