Russell Hicks

Active - 1933 - 1956  |   Born - Jun 4, 1895   |   Died - Jun 1, 1957   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Crime, Mystery, Musical

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Trained in prep school for a career as a businessman, Baltimore-born Russell Hicks chucked his predestined lifestyle for a theatrical career, over the protests of his family. As an actor, Hicks came full circle, spending the bulk of his career playing businessmen! Though he claimed to have appeared in D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916), Hicks' earliest recorded Hollywood job occured in 1920, when he was hired as an assistant casting director for Famous Players (later Paramount). Making his stage debut in It Pays to Smile, Hicks acted in stock companies and on Broadway before his official film bow in 1934's Happiness Ahead. The embodiment of the small-town business booster or chairman of the board, the tall, authoritative Hicks frequently used his dignified persona to throw the audience off guard in crooked or villainous roles. He was glib confidence man J. Frothingham Waterbury in W.C. Fields' The Bank Dick (1940) ("I want to be honest with you in the worst way!"), and more than once he was cast as the surprise killer in murder mysteries. Because of his robust, athletic physique, Hicks could also be seen as middle-aged adventurers, such as one of The Three Musketeers in the 1939 version of that classic tale, and as the aging Robin Hood in 1946's Bandit of Sherwood Forest (1946). Russell Hicks continued accepting film assignments until 1956's Seventh Cavalry.

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