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Chuck Hicks, the stuntman, actor and frequent Clint Eastwood combatant whose credits included Every Which Way but Loose, The Twilight Zone, Cool Hand Luke and Dick Tracy, has died. He was 93.
Hicks died May 4 in Las Vegas after suffering a stroke about six months ago, his son Kirk told The Hollywood Reporter.
Survivors also include his wife, stuntwoman Kaye Wade Hicks. They met in Burbank in the early 1950s, reconnected in 1980 when he was playing Omar Sharif’s bodyguard in the CBS telefilm Pleasure Palace and wed some 10 years ago.
Six-foot-2 and a muscular 230 pounds in his prime, Hicks was a onetime running back, boxer and rugby player who worked on scores of films and TV shows and served as a stunt double for the likes of Clint Walker, Brian Keith and Brian Dennehy.
He was a charter member and past president of the Stuntmen’s Association of Motion Pictures who was inducted into the Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame.
Hicks portrayed the robot boxer Maynard Flash on the memorable 1963 Twilight Zone episode “Steel,” written by Richard Matheson, and under heavy makeup played the villain known as The Brow in Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy (1990).
He was frequently pummeled by Clint Eastwood characters. The pair first worked together on a 1962 episode of CBS’ Rawhide, followed by Paint Your Wagon (1969), Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Every Which Way but Loose (1978), Bronco Billy (1980), Any Which Way You Can (1980) and City Heat (1984).
For Cool Hand Luke (1967), Hicks portrayed the prisoner known as Chief and coordinated the brutal boxing scene that saw George Kennedy put a licking on Paul Newman. He also served as the stunt coordinator on the 1988-92 NBC series In the Heat of the Night.
As Dennis McCarthy described it in a 2011 profile of Hicks in the Los Angeles Daily News, his life was “one big black-and-white movie. He’s the guy in the shadows with the blackjack, waiting for the leading man to walk out of the nightclub; the getaway man, bar bully, crooked cop, hood, prizefighter taking a dive.
“I was the bad guy, always getting beat up,” Hicks said in the piece.
Born on Dec. 26, 1927, in Stockton, California, Charles Hicks was a star running back at Burbank High School, where one of his classmates was future actor (and fellow tough guy) William Smith.
He served in the U.S. Merchant Marine and U.S. Navy during World War II, then attended Loyola Marymount University, where he received a football scholarship and boxed.
Hicks had tryouts with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins, played seven years of semipro football and boxed professionally under the name Chuck Daley because his handler thought “that sounded more Irish.” He won five of his eight bouts by first-round knockout.
“I was making $75 a fight,” he said. “My manager took a third of that, my cutman and second got $10 each. After the government took its cut, I had nothing left, so I quit.”
After working as a lifeguard at the community Pickwick Pool in Burbank, Hicks was cast as football players in She’s Working Her Way Through College (starring Ronald Reagan) and The Rose Bowl Story, two of the four 1952 films in which he appeared.
He appeared on other films including The Caddy (1953), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Blackboard Jungle (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Around the World in 80 Days (1956) before he began a regular gig in 1956 as Walker’s stand-in and stunt double on ABC’s Cheyenne.
Also that year, he portrayed LaMarr Kane, one of Eliot Ness’ (Robert Stack) original Untouchables, on the first season of the ABC drama.
Hicks went on to work on multiple episodes of other shows including Maverick, Peter Gunn, Honey West, Batman, Mannix, The Rockford Files, Starsky and Hutch and The Fall Guy and on films including Hell Is for Heroes (1962), Shock Corridor (1963), Our Man Flint (1966), Point Blank (1967), Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off (1973), Hide in Plain Sight (1980), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Johnny Dangerously (1984), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Runaway Train (1985) and Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) before retiring in 2010.
Survivors include another son, Kevin.
Rhett Bartlett contributed to this report.
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