Dorothy Stickney

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Dorothy Stickney
Dorothy Stickney.jpg
Born Dorothy Hayes Stickney
(1896-06-21)June 21, 1896
Dickinson, North Dakota, U.S.
Died June 2, 1998(1998-06-02) (aged 101)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Stage, film, television actress
Years active 1931-1977
Spouse(s) 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]


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 also fond of going to the theater with her family, and this sparked her interest in being an actress. Thanks to 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] She 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. Stickney received the Barter Award for Best Performance of the Year in 1940 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.

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 last stage roles was as Berthe in the original Broadway run of Pippin in 1972-77. 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 TV series.

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

Stickney and Howard maintained a longtime home in the Stanton section of Readington Township, New Jersey.[6]


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



  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 November 16, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Dorothy Stickney Dies at 101: The First Mother of 'Life with Father'". Playbill. June 3, 1998. Retrieved November 16, 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. ^ 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."

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