William Hickey

Actor, Acting teacher, Dancer
His stooped posture, desiccated appearance, and frog-like speaking voice made William Hickey a natural to play weirdoes in Hollywood films - a rsum that belied his distinguished career in theatre. Developing a taste for ... Read more »
Born: 09/19/1927 in Brooklyn, New York, USA


Actor (60)

The Outer Limits 1994 - 2002 (TV Show)


Knocking on Death's Door 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)


Mouse Hunt 1997 (Movie)

Rudolf Smuntz (Actor)

Twisted 1997 (Movie)

Andre (Actor)

Love Is All There Is 1996 (Movie)

Monsignor (Actor)

Cul-de-sac 1995 (Movie)


Forget Paris 1995 (Movie)

Arthur (Actor)

Major Payne 1995 (Movie)

Dr Phillips (Actor)

The Jerky Boys 1995 (Movie)

Uncle Freddy (Actor)

The Maddening 1995 (Movie)


The Wright Verdicts 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)


L.A. Law 1991 - 1994 (Tv Show)


Wings 1991 - 1994 (Tv Show)


Mastergate 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)


Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993 (Movie)

of Evil Scientist (Voice)

Baby Talk 1990 - 1992 (TV Show)


Hairway to the Stars 1992 (Movie)

Robert (Actor)

The Runestone 1992 (Movie)

Lars Hagstron (Actor)

Any Man's Death 1990 (Movie)

Schiller--Bauer (Actor)

Colin Quinn Back in Brooklyn 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)


My Blue Heaven 1990 (Movie)

Billy Sparrow (Actor)

Tales From the Darkside: the Movie 1990 (Movie)

Drogan (Actor)

The Switch 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)


It Had to Be You 1989 (Movie)

Schornberg (Actor)

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 1989 (Movie)

Lewis (Actor)

Pink Cadillac 1989 (Movie)

Mr Barton (Actor)

Sea of Love 1989 (Movie)

Frank Sr (Actor)

Sons 1989 (Movie)

Roger (Actor)

Back to Brooklyn 1988 (Movie)


Bright Lights, Big City 1988 (Movie)

Ferret Man (Actor)

Da 1988 (Movie)

Drumm (Actor)

Puppet Master 1988 (Movie)

Andre Toulan--the Puppetmaster (Actor)

Stranded 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)


Flanagan 1986 (Movie)

Papa (Actor)

One Crazy Summer 1986 (Movie)

Old Man Beckersted (Actor)

The Name of the Rose 1986 (Movie)

Ubertino DeCasale (Actor)

Prizzi's Honor 1985 (Movie)

Don Corrado Prizzi (Actor)

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins... 1985 (Movie)

Coney Island Barker (Actor)

Wise Blood 1979 (Movie)

Preacher (Actor)

Mikey and Nicky 1976 (Movie)

Sid Fine (Actor)

The Sentinel 1976 (Movie)

Perry (Actor)

92 in the Shade 1975 (Movie)

Skelton Parent (Actor)

Ceremony of Innocence 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)


Between Time and Timbuktu 1971 (Movie)


A New Leaf 1970 (Movie)


Happy Birthday, Wanda June 1970 (Movie)

Looseleaf Harper (Actor)

Little Big Man 1970 (Movie)

Historian (Actor)

The Telephone Book 1970 (Movie)

Man in Bed (Actor)

The Boston Strangler 1968 (Movie)

Eugene T Rourke (Actor)

The Producers 1967 (Movie)

Drunk in Theater Bar (Actor)

Invitation to a Gunfighter 1964 (Movie)

Jo Jo (Actor)

Something Wild 1960 (Movie)


A Hatful of Rain 1957 (Movie)

Apples (Actor)

Operation Mad Ball 1957 (Movie)


A Hobo's Christmas (TV Show)


Izzy and Moe (TV Show)


Loving (TV Show)


Mob Boss (TV Show)


Seize the Day (TV Show)


Starlight (Movie)



His stooped posture, desiccated appearance, and frog-like speaking voice made William Hickey a natural to play weirdoes in Hollywood films - a résumé that belied his distinguished career in theatre. Developing a taste for performing as a child at the Henry Street Settlement on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Hickey began teaching acting after World War II and joined the staff of Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof's acclaimed HB Studio in Greenwich Village in 1957. Better known as an acting coach than as an actor, Hickey guided the likes of Steve McQueen and Barbra Streisand while playing bits in such films as "The Boston Strangler" (1968), "Little Big Man" (1970), and "Mikey and Nicky" (1976). John Huston had cast him in a small role in "Wise Blood" (1979) but called the 57-year-old actor back to play an octogenarian Mafia don in "Prizzi's Honor" (1985), which earned Hickey an Oscar nomination and a measure of popular appeal. For horror movie fans, he was unforgettable as the "Puppetmaster" (1989), as the millionaire who hires a hitman to kill his cat in "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie" (1990), and as the voice of the mad Dr. Finkelstein in Tim Burton's stop-motion fantasia "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993). Diagnosed with emphysema, Hickey continued to work exhaustively in films and television. He was teaching up to two weeks before his death in July 1997, showing his commitment to the craft that had changed his life and enabled him to make a living.


Edward Hickey


Nora Hickey


Lilli Afan

survived him

Dorothy Finn

survived him


studied acting with Herbert Berghof and Uta Hagen



Final features, "Twisted" and "Mousehunt" (released posthumously)


Acted the role of Dr. Einstein on Broadway in the revival of the 1940s Joseph Kesselring farce, "Arsenic and Old Lace"


Returned to features to act a breakthrough role in another John Huston film, "Prizzi's Honor"; received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor


Began acting regularly on TV with a role in his first TV-movie, "Izzy and Moe"


Succeeded Philip Pleasants in the role of Ralph Waldo Emerson in the off-Broadway play, "Romance Language"


Acted in an off-Broadway revival of the Moliere play, "Don Juan", directed by Richard Foreman


Last film for six years, John Huston's "Wise Blood"


Returned to feature films after a decade to act in Mel Brooks' fondly remembered satire, "The Producers"


Stage directing debut, "All You Need Is One Good Break" at the Phoenicia Playhouse, Phoenicia NY


First TV special, played the Artful Dodger in "Oliver Twist" ("Dupont Show of the Month")


Film debut, "A Hatful of Rain"


Began teaching acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio in New York


Worked as assistant stage manager and actor in "Tovarich" on Broadway


Broadway debut, "Saint Joan"; production starred Uta Hagen, with Hickey as an extra


Acted off-Broadway at age 20 in the play, "Bury the Dead"; studied acting with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof at their HB Studios (date approximate)


Began acting career on radio at the age of nine (date approximate)

Joined American Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford Connecticut for six seasons during the 1960s

First taught acting to children at a community center in New York City's Lower East Side, the Henry Street Settlement, when he was in his early twenties

Appeared on "Camera Three", "Philco Playhouse" and other live TV dramas in the 1950s

Played recurring role of Carlton Blanchard on the NBC sitcom, "Wings"

TV series debut as regular, "Baby Talk", an ABC sitcom in which he played the role of Fogarty