Dwayne Hickman: A Look Back at the Full Life and Diverse Career of the Beloved Star of TV's "Dobie Gillis"

Herbie J Pilato

Photo bythe Classic TV Preservation Society

It's a little over one year since actor and former CBS executive Dwayne Hickman died of Parkinson's at 87 in 2022.

Hickman was best known for his likable leading role in TV's beloved teen-geared sitcom, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which originally aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963 on CBS.

As fate would have it, Hickman passed away on January 9, which just so happened to be the birthday of his close friend and Dobbie Gillis co-star Bob Denver (who died in 2005 at age 70).

Denver would go on to star in another classic TV sitcom: Gilligan's Island (CBS, 1964-1967), while Hickman had previously starred in The Bob Cummings Show (which aired on various networks between 1955 and 1959). It was on the Cummings show that Hickman played that star's TV nephew Chuck MacDonald.

In real life, Cummings served as Hickman's mentor.

A Closer Look at Hickman's Life and Career

In addition to acting, Dwayne Hickman was a critically acclaimed artist, who hosted several gallery showings. His paintings were represented in galleries across the country and held in many corporate and private collections.

Hickman's maternal grandfather, Louis Henry Ostertag, was a US Navy seaman on Commodore George Dewey's USS Olympia, and present at the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, for which he was awarded the "Dewey Medal" by Act of Congress.

According to the 1940 Census, at one time, Dwayne and his family resided with his grandparents in Los Angeles. His younger brother was actor Darryl Hickman (with whom he appeared in the 1845 feature film, Captain Eddie.

In 1952, he attended and graduated from Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, California. During the 1980s and '90s, Hickman resided in Santa Monica, CA.

From 1977 to 1988, Hickman switched career gears and served as a programming executive at CBS. However, he returned to acting briefly during that time for a cameo in the 1983 NBC TV-movie, High School USA (which featured other classic TV stars)

In 1988, Hickman reprised his role of Dobie in the TV movie Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988), and authored the memoir, Forever Dobie. In the late 1980s, Hickman changed careers again, this time to directing episodes of TV sitcoms like Charles in Charge, Head of the Class, and Sister, Sister.

Around that same time, Hickman still occasionally acted, appearing in shows like Murder, She Wrote, and the TV adaptation of the movie Clueless.


Dwayne Hickman was wed three times. His first two marriages, to Carol Christensen and Joanne Papile, ended in divorce. He and his third wife, Joan Roberts, were married for 28 years until his demise. He had two sons, one from his first marriage and one from his third.

In all, Hickman was considered one of the kindest and most affable entertainment professionals in Hollywood and he will be fondly remembered forever for his iconic TV roles.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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