Dwayne Hickman, the actor, producer, director and artist known to Baby Boomers around the world as TV’s Dobie Gillis, died peacefully at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan 9 at age eighty-seven.
One of television’s most enduring stars, Hickman’s earliest screen appearances included The Boy with the Green Hair. His diversified career would truly begin at the age of six, 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. As “Dobie,” Hickman became the hero and spokesman for the generation of Baby Boomers, while reruns of Dobie Gillis are still being enjoyed nearly sixty years later by a whole new generation.During the years following Dobie Gillis, Hickman attended Loyola University where he earned a B.S. in Economics while also resuming his film career, starring in several teen movies for A.I.P., including How to Stuff a Wild Bikini with Annette Funicello and Ski Party with Frankie Avalon. He also starred in the Academy Award-winning comedy western classic, Cat Ballou, opposite Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, and Michael Callan, plus he toured in the national stage productions of Barefoot in the Park, Star Spangled Girl and 6 Rms Riv Vu. In the 1970’s, 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 Television. For 10 years he supervised such hits as Maude, M*A*S*H and Designing Women. Hickman then left the network to star and produce the CBS Movie of the Week, Bring Me The Head Of Dobie Gillis, while also becoming a prolific director of half-hour comedies. During this time he met his future wife, actress/writer Joan Roberts, when she was co-starring in the CBS T.V. series Private Benjamin.” They were married April 16, 1983. In addition to acting and directing, Hickman and his wife Joan co-authored his autobiography, Forever Dobie: The Many Lives of Dwayne Hickman (Birch Lane Press), as well as developing film and T.V. scripts. Dwayne Hickman stepped in front of the cameras again, co-starring in the Paramount feature film The Night at the Roxbury, plus he had a recurring role on the UPN-TV series Clueless. He also appeared in the CBS TV-movie Surviving Gilligan’s Island, playing a CBS network executive!
Also an acclaimed artist (DwayneHickman.com), Hickman became known for his use of vibrant colors and exquisite detail in his popular house and landscape series. 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, briefly, to singer, Joanne Papile and to his current wife of 38 years, Joan Roberts. He is survived by his wife, Joan 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, and 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 501C3 that supports local humanitarian programs, including Parkinsons organizations.