Dorothy Stickney, the beloved Broadway actress who originated the role of the mother in the long-running play “Life With Father,” died June 2 at her home in New York City. She was 101.
Stickney and her husband, celebrated playwright-director-actor Howard Lindsay, who, along with Russel Crouse co-wrote “Life With Father,” co-starred in the 1939 play for five years and occasionally returned to the play as its stars. The play ran for seven years on Broadway and remains the longest-running nonmusical show in Broadway history.
In 1948 the Lindsays recreated their roles in the play’s sequel, “Life With Mother,” which was a modest success and ran for about a year.
Stickney made her Broadway debut in “The Squall” (1926) and subsequently registered with audiences in a string of hits, portraying eccentric characters including Liz, the mad scrubwoman in the original nonmusical version of “Chicago” (1926). She also essayed the role of Mollie Molloy, the prostitute who jumped from a pressroom window in “The Front Page” (1928).
Additional legit credits included “Philip Goes Forth” (1931), “Another Language” (1932), “On Borrowed Time” (1938), “The Small Hours” (1951), “To Be Continued” (1952), “Kind Sir” (1953) and “The Honeys” (1955).
Primarily a stage actress, Stickney occasionally made brief forays into feature films and the small screen. Her bigscreen debut was in the film “Wayward” (1932). Among other film roles, she was featured in “Murder at the Vanities” (1934) and in the Katharine Hepburn starrer “The Little Minister” (1934). In 1944 she and her close friend Cornelia Otis Skinner played small but touching roles in the Paramount ghost film “The Uninvited.”
Twenty-five years later she received third billing in the Melvyn Douglas-Gene Hackman film “I Never Sang for My Father.
On television, she played the queen in the Julie Andrews version of “Cinderella” on CBS in 1957. She also played a bootlegger on the CBS series “The Waltons.”
In 1960 she wrote and starred in a one-woman play about one of her favorite writers, Edna St. Vincent Millay, titled “A Lovely Light.” Stickney embarked on a nationwide tour including Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Fort Wayne. She also recorded the performance for Vanguard Records in 1964.
Widowed since 1968, she left no survivors.