Darryl Hickman, child actor in ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ ‘Leave Her to Heaven,’ dead at 92

Darryl Hickman

Darryl Hickman, a versatile child actor during the 1940s who appeared in “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Leave Her to Heaven,” died May 22. He was 92.

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The death of Hickman, who later played a supporting role to his younger brother Dwayne on television in “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” was announced in a statement by his family, The Washington Post reported.

Hickman made his first movie appearance in 1937′s “The Prisoner of Zenda” and had one line of dialogue in “If I Were King” the following year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He sang and tap danced in the 1939 film, “The Star Maker.”

As a 9-year-old, Hickman was one of 100 child actors who auditioned for the role of Winfield Joad, the youngest child of the impoverished Joad family led by Henry Fonda in the 1940 film, “The Grapes of Wrath,” the Post reported.

Director John Ford said he chose Hickman because “he was the only kid that didn’t act like an actor,” according to the newspaper.

In the 1945 dark thriller “Leave Her to Heaven,” Hickman played Danny Harland, the younger brother of Cornel Wilde’s character, Entertainment Weekly reported. Danny is disabled because of polio and comes to live with Richard, his older brother (Wilde) and his wife, Ellen (Gene Tierney).

The boy drowns in a lake while Tierney, who was jealous of her husband’s affection for his brother, coldly watches him die, according to the entertainment news website.

After more roles, Hickman left acting during the early 1950s and briefly entered a monastery, the Post reported. He resurfaced on television later in the decade, appearing in episodes of“Perry Mason,” “The Untouchables” and “Gunsmoke,” according to the newspaper.

He joined his younger brother in three episodes of “Dobie Gillis,” playing an older sibling.

Hickman later appeared in the 1976 film “Network” as a West Coast television executive and was a police officer who turns crooked in the 1981 film, “Sharky’s Machine,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Darryl Gerard Hickman was born on July 28, 1931, in Los Angeles, the Post reported.

He graduated from Cathedral High School in Los Angeles in 1948 and dated Elizabeth Taylor, according to The Hollywood Reporter. After his desire to become a monk waned, he left he monastery to enroll at Loyola University.

During the 1970s, he worked as a producer for the soap opera “Love of Life” and was in charge of CBS daytime programming for five years, the entertainment news website reported.

Hickman was married to actress Pamela Lincoln from 1960 to 1982, according to Entertainment Weekly. They had two sons; their younger son, Justin, died by suicide in 1985 when he was 19.

In an appearance with other former child actors in a discussion panel on Turner Classic Movies in 2006, Hickman said he was unprepared for life after his fame as a child actor, the Post reported.

“I’ve had 12 psychiatrists and it cost me $85,000 to be able to sit here with some degree of sanity,” Hickman said at the time.

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