This is a continuation of O’Fallon Public Library blog’s Famous Fridays, which features famous people from the St. Louis Area.
Mary Wickes was born Mary Isabella Wickenhauser in St. Louis on June 13th, 1910. She graduated from Beaumont High School in St. Louis and then graduated from Washington University with a double major in English literature and political science. Acting and drama was not a career consideration for her until her later years of college.
As a child, her parents often took her to see plays and were quite the theatre buffs. Wickes is famously known for her roles as an actress in many American films and television series. Her acting career flourished as she played numerous supporting roles as nuns, nurses, housekeepers, and secretaries……most with strict or sarcastic attitudes.
Most of us know that Julie Andrews is notable for starring in Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins. However, Mary Wickes could actually be considered the original. In 1949, Mary Wickes debuted as Mary Poppins during a live telecast. Creating the magic of Mary Poppins in 1949 proved challenging as Wickes had an impressive feat of being hauled across the stage via pulley and meat hook. Throughout her career she went on to appear in numerous television classics including: The Waltons, Highway to Heaven, M*A*S*H, I Love Lucy, Bonanza, etc. Wickes’ ability to transform into unforgettable characters like the choir director in Sister Act and the housekeeper in White Christmas displayed her outstanding talent of acting.
In addition to her well-known roles, she also voiced the gargoyle named Laverne in Disney’s the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Sadly, she passed away before finishing her role. However, her name lives on and closer than we think. You can find her name inscribed in the St. Louis Walk of Fame at the Delmar Loop. Wickes spent her life contributing to the entertainment industry and she is someone who will be remembered for years to come. She is buried at Shiloh Valley Cemetery in neighboring Shiloh, Illinois.
Mary Wickes: I Know I’ve Seen That Face Before- Chronicles the life of a woman who brought an assortment of unforgettable nurses, nuns, and housekeepers to life on screen and stage in such works as White Christmas and Sister Act.
The Trouble With Angels- Two mischievous students turn convent school upside down with their pranks. During Christmas break, Mary remains at the school and is touched by the Sisters’ celebration of the Yule. Their graduation is both a relief and a celebration for the Mother Superior.
Sister Act Collection- A nightclub singer is forced to take refuge from the mob in a convent. While there she turns the convent choir into a “soulful chorus of swingin’ sisters.” — Whoopi Goldberg returns as the lounge singer who goes undercover as a nun to help an ailing inner-city school.