Dwayne Hickman, whose turn as eternal romantic Dobie Gillis made him a teen idol in the 1960s, has died this morning in his Los Angeles home of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 87.
An actor, producer, director and artist, Hickman starred in the hit TV series The Bob Cummings Show and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. He died on the birthday of his dearest friend and former Dobie Gillis cast member Bob Denver, whom he again co-starred opposite in the 2001 CBS movie of the week Surviving Gilligan’s Island, playing a CBS network executive.
Born Dwayne Bernard Hickman on May 18, 1934, in Los Angeles, Hickman’s earliest screen appearances began at age 6, making his film debut as an extra in The Grapes of Wrath.
As a teen he starred in his first television series opposite Bob Cummings, where he honed his comedic skills under the watchful eyes of comedy greats George Burns and Jack Benny. Five years later, he would land the starring role in his own series, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis”During the years following Dobie Gillis, Hickman attended Loyola University, where he earned a degree in economics, resuming his film career in several teen movies for A.I.P. that have become cult classics, including How to Stuff a Wild Bikini with Annette Funicello and Ski Party with Frankie Avalon.
He also starred in the 1965 comedy western classic Cat Ballou with Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin. Along with guest appearances on episodic television Hickman also performed on stage, touring the country in productions of Barefoot in the Park, Star Spangled Girl and 6 Rms Riv Vu.In the 1970s, after a brief stint as entertainment director at Howard Hughes’ Landmark Hotel in Las Vegas, Hickman decided to return to television. But this time, he joined the corporate ranks as a network executive with CBS.
For 10 years, he supervised such hits as Maude, M*A*S*H and Designing Women. Hickman left the network to star and produce the CBS movie of the week Bring Me The Head Of Dobie Gillis. He also went behind the camera to direct half-hour comedies. It was during this time that he met his future wife, actress-writer Joan Roberts, when she was co-starring in the CBS series, Pvt. Benjamin. They were married April 16, 1983.In addition to acting and directing, he and Joan coauthored his autobiography, Forever Dobie: The Many Lives of Dwayne Hickman (Birch Lane Press), as well as developing film and TV scripts. Dwayne Hickman stepped in front of the cameras again, costarring in Paramount’s feature film, The Night at the Roxbury. and for two seasons he had a recurring role on UPN. T.V’s series, Clueless.
Hickman was also a critically acclaimed artist (DwayneHickman.com), painting in oils. Hickman’s use of vibrant colors and exquisite detail in his popular house and landscape series has become his trademark. His original oil paintings and limited edition prints have been represented in galleries nationwide and can be found in private and corporate collections.Hickman was married three times; to actress Carol Christensen, to singer, Joanne Papile, and to his current wife of 38 years, Joan Roberts.
He is survived by Roberts; their son, Albert Hickman, and son, John Hickman with the late, Carol Christensen Sneed.
Services will be private and memorial plans have not yet been set. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to The Actors Fund (actorsfund.org) or DreamClub United (dreamclubunited.org), founded by Dwayne’s son, Albert Hickman, a 501(c) 3 that supports local humanitarian programs, including Parkinson’s organizations.
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