This is another of the many “Oh, yeah. Her!” character actors and actresses that are part of our collective memory, but we never think about until we happen to be watching an old movie or TV show and their faces flash on the screen. Mary Wickes began her acting career in the 30’s, on Broadway, and spent some time with Orson Welles’ Mercury Players, in radio. Tall, gangly and awkward, with a distinctive voice, once she hit the silver screen, Wickes never stopped working.
Always a supporting character, usually one who cracked wise, Wickes’ career spanned all forms of entertainment. Broadway, radio, movies, television, commercials and, finally, animation. Wickes last role was as the voice of Laverve, one of the three gargoyles in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. But prior to that, Wickes worked with just about everybody in Hollywood. Two of her roles are iconic, and make calling her to mind easy.
Working with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, Wickes was the busybody housekeeper/operator in the holiday classic, White Christmas. Late in her career, Wickes re-familiarized herself with moviegoers when she played Sister Mary Lazarus, in Sister Act 1 & 2. Around those films, she squeezed in a career in which she worked with Hollywood greatness: Bette Davis, Abbott and Costello, Orson Welles, Doris Day, Robert Preston, Jack Lemmon, Rosalind Russell and Lucille Ball. A close friend of Lucille Ball, Wickes made several guest appearances on all three of Ball’s TV shows.
So, here’s to one of those often recognized but not remembered actors that make up our collective memory, Mary Wickes.