Darryl Hickman Dies: Actor In ‘The Grapes Of Wrath’ And ‘Leave Her To Heaven’ Was 92

Darryl Hickman, a child actor in Leave Her to Heaven and The Grapes of Wrath, died at 92 on Wednesday, May 22, his family said. No cause was given.

Hickman appeared in more than 40 films, having been a contract player at Paramount and MGM.

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He portrayed the youngest member of the Joad family, Winfield, in John Ford’s 1940 adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath, as well as a role as the younger version of Van Heflin’s character in the 1946 noir, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.

In 1945’s Leave Her to Heaven, Hickman played Danny, younger brother to Cornel Wilde’s Richard. Danny was disabled by polio and when he comes to live with Richard and his wife, Ellen (Gene Tierney), he drowns by Ellen’s hand in the middle of a lake due to jealousy of Richard’s affection for the boy.

In 1951, he briefly retired from acting to enter a monastery, but returned to Hollywood a little over a month later.

Hickman was born July 28, 1931, in Hollywood, California, and signed to a contract at Paramount after being discovered by a dance school director. His first film was 1937’s The Prisoner of Zenda as Ronald Colman’s son.

Among his many films was The Star Maker, Untamed, Men of Boys Town, Mob Town, Joe Smith, American, The Human Comedy, Rhapsody in Blue, Two Years Before the Mast, Boys’ Ranch, Alias Nick Beal, and The Set-Up.

When he grew to adulthood, his opportunities diminished. He played a supporting role as Al in 1956’s Tea and Sympathy, and appeared on television on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Untouchables, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, Climax!, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, General Electric Theater, among others.

His younger brother, Dwayne Hickman, was the star of CBS comedy The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis from 1959 to 1963. Hickman appeared in three episodes of the first season alongside his younger brother, portraying Dobie’s older brother, Davey.

From there, he moved to Broadway, taking over for Robert Morse as J. Pierrepont Finch in the original production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

He later became a screenwriter and television executive. He served as the head of CBS daytime programming for nearly five years.

After a lengthy hiatus from movies, he returned to film to play a West Coast television executive in 1976’s Network.

In his later years, Hickman published a book on acting techniques, 2007’s The Unconscious Actor: Out of Control, in Full Command. 

No information on survivors was immediately available.


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