Dorothy Stickney
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Dorothy Stickney

Dorothy Stickney
Dorothy Stickney.jpg
Dorothy Hayes Stickney

(1896-06-21)June 21, 1896
DiedJune 2, 1998(1998-06-02) (aged 101)
New York City, U.S.
OccupationStage, film, television actress
Years active1931-1977
Howard Lindsay (m.1927-1968; his death)

Dorothy Stickney (June 21, 1896 - June 2, 1998) was an American film, stage and television actress, best known for appearing in the long running Broadway hit Life with Father.[1]

Early years

Stickney was born in Dickinson, North Dakota, but because of a medical condition, she was unable to go into bright places and spent most of her childhood indoors to protect her sensitive eyes. Her introduction to reading came from family members who read the classics to her. Because she had difficulty reading, she focused on skills like dancing and elocution. She was fond of going to the theater with her family, and this sparked her interest in being an actress. Because of several eye surgeries, by her teens, Stickney was able to continue her education and pursue a career in the theater.[2]

Stickney attended the North Western Dramatic School in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[3]


Stickney sang and danced as one of the four Southern Belles in vaudeville and began acting in summer stock companies including Atlanta's Forsyth Players in the early 1920s before she married Howard Lindsay. In 1927, Stickney and Lindsay were married, and the two stayed married until Lindsay's death in 1968.[1][2]

Stickney made her Broadway debut in 1926 in The Squall and had a string of hits, frequently playing eccentric characters.[3] She was Liz, the mad scrubwoman, in the original nonmusical version of Chicago, and Mollie Molloy, who dives out of the pressroom window, in The Front Page. With increasingly important roles, she moved on to Philip Goes Forth,[4] Another Language, On Borrowed Time, The Small Hours, To Be Continued[5] and The Honeys.[] In 1940, Stickney received the Barter Theatre Award for "outstanding performance for an American player"[6] for her role as Vinnie in Life with Father, which had been written by her husband, Lindsay, who also co-starred. The award was presented to her by Eleanor Roosevelt.[7]

She also appeared in some films and TV programs, and wrote several poems including "You're Not the Type" and "My Dressing Room". She played the Queen in the original 1957 TV production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella,[3] and later Aunt Abby in the 1962 Hallmark TV production of Arsenic and Old Lace, co-starring Boris Karloff.

In 1961, she was the second inductee of the North Dakota Roughrider Award. On November 16, 1966, Stickney appeared on ABC's Stage 67 anthology program in Stephen Sondheim's macabre television musical Evening Primrose as Mrs. Monday, the leader of the mannequins who come to life every evening in a department store.[3] One of her later stage roles was as Berthe in the original Broadway run of Pippin from 1972 to 1977. She took over the role in 1973 from Irene Ryan who died during the run. She created the role of Emily Baldwin, one of the Baldwin sisters, in the television film The Homecoming : A Christmas Story, which was the pilot for The Waltons.

In 1979, Stickney published Openings and Closings, a memoir that chronicled her long career as well as her secret battle with stage fright.[1]

Stickney and Howard maintained a longtime home in Stanton, New Jersey.[8]


She died a few weeks before her 102nd birthday in New York City. She had no children and no immediate family survivors.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1931 My Sin Mrs. Jenkins, the Landlady Uncredited
1931 Working Girls Loretta
1932 Wayward Hattie
1934 Murder at the Vanities Norma Watson
1934 The Little Minister Jean
1936 The Moon's Our Home Hilda
1936 And So They Were Married Miss Peabody
1938 I Met My Love Again Mrs. Emily Towner
1939 What a Life Miss Wheeler
1944 The Uninvited Miss Bird
1948 Miss Tatlock's Millions Emily Tatlock
1954 The Great Diamond Robbery Emily Drumman
1956 The Catered Affair Mrs. Rafferty
1959 The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker Aunt Jane Pennypacker
1962 Arsenic & Old Lace Abby Brewster TV movie
1970 I Never Sang for My Father Margaret Garrison
1971 The Waltons Emily Baldwin Episode: "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story"


  1. ^ a b c d Gussow, Mel. "Dorothy Stickney Dies at 101; Acted in Many Broadway Hits", The New York Times, June 3, 1998. Accessed December 1, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Eriksmoen, Curtis (September 27, 2015). "Eriksmoen: Acclaimed actress Dorothy Stickney came from Dickinson, N.D." InForum. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d "Dorothy Stickney Dies at 101: The First Mother of 'Life with Father'". Playbill. June 3, 1998. Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ Jordan, Elizabeth (February 28, 1931). "Dramatics". Entertainment Review. 44 (21): 508-510.
  5. ^ Lewis, Theophilus (May 10, 1952). "Theatre". Entertainment Review. 87 (6): 182.
  6. ^ "Dorothy Stickney Wins Barter Theatre Award". The New York Times. April 17, 1940. p. 31. Retrieved 2021.
  7. ^ "Dorothy Stickney gets stage prize". The New York Times. May 3, 1940. p. 23. Retrieved 2021.
  8. ^ Bouman-Stickney House, Readington Township. Accessed June 9, 2016. "In 1935, Broadway playwright and producer Howard Lindsay purchased the house and surrounding property as a gift for his wife, Broadway and movie actress Dorothy Stickney. Ms. Stickney and Mr. Lindsay used the house as a weekend and vacation retreat until Mr. Lindsay's death in 1968."

External links

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