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Born
William Hickman

January 25, 1921
DiedFebruary 24, 1986 (aged 65)
Indio, California, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
OccupationStunt driver, actor, stunt coordinator
Years active1943–1973
Known forBullitt, The French Connection, The Seven-Ups

William Hickman (January 25, 1921 – February 24, 1986) was an American professional stunt driver, stunt coordinator and actor in the U.S. film industry. His film career spanned from the 1950s through to the late 1970s, and included films such as Bullitt, The French Connection and The Seven-Ups.

Early career and James Dean[edit]

Bill Hickman was already an established stuntman by the time The Wild One was being filmed and his expertise on motorcycles landed him work on the Stanley Kramer production. At some point during the project Hickman was injured and was unable to continue. It is never clear whether he was hurt while filming a stunt for the movie, although one account (by the late Clyde Earl) had him taking a spill in a motorcycle race not connected with the film. However, Hickman is clearly shown in several of the publicity stills from The Wild One.

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Hickman spent some of these earlier days as driver and friend to James Dean, driving Dean's Ford station wagon towing Dean's famed 550 Spyder nicknamed “Little Bastard”, and often helping and advising him with his driving technique. He was driving the Ford station wagon and trailer following Dean on the day of his fatal accident and was the first person on the scene.

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Hickman was an extra in Dean's 1951 feature movie debut, Fixed Bayonets!. A rare personal quote from Bill on his friendship with Dean: 'In those final days, racing was what he cared about most. I had been teaching him things like how to put a car in a four-wheel drift, but he had plenty of skill of his own. If he had lived he might have become a champion driver. We had a running joke, I'd call him Little Bastard and he'd call me Big Bastard. I never stop thinking of those memories.'

In another interview with James Dean expert Warren Beath, Hickman is quoted as saying, 'We were about two or three minutes behind him. I pulled him out of the car, and he was in my arms when he died, his head fell over. I heard the air coming out of his lungs the last time. Didn’t sleep for five or six nights after that, just the sound of the air coming out of his lungs.'

Stuntman work in Bullitt[edit]

While Hickman had many small acting (mainly driving) parts throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he worked primarily as a stuntman. He sustained a couple of significant injuries during this time, including breaking several ribs in a bad trick-fall in the film How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). However, it was the car chase alongside Steve McQueen in the 1968 film Bullitt for which he is usually remembered. Hickman was to do all his own driving; portraying one of two hit men, he drove an all black 1968 Dodge Charger 440 Magnum R/T through the streets of San Francisco, using the hills as jumps.

In a professional driver's touch (before compulsory restraints were introduced in California), Hickman's character buckles his seat belt before flooring it at the beginning of the pursuit by the Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT, driven by Steve McQueen.

The dangers were real: in one shot Hickman accidentally loses control and clips the camera fixed to a parked car. The chase climaxes with his Charger careening off into a gas station at which the fuel pumps erupt into a massive fireball.

The French Connection[edit]

Hickman performed a high-risk car-chase scene by William Friedkin for his 1971 film The French Connection. As with Bullitt, The French Connection (also produced by Bullitt's producer, Philip D'Antoni) is famed for its car-chase sequence. What differs from the usual car chase is that Gene Hackman’s character is chasing an elevated train from the street below (the scene was filmed in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, with most of the action taking place on 86th Street). This chase was performed in real traffic, as Hickman drove the brown 1971 Pontiac LeMans at speeds up to 90 mph with Friedkin manning the camera right behind him, and at one point Hickman hits a car driven by a local man on his way to work who wandered into the scene. This scene was kept in the film by Friedkin as it added reality to the whole sequence, however, the scene where the woman steps out into the street with a baby carriage was staged. Hickman also had a supporting role in the film as federal agent Mulderig (at constant odds with Hackman's Popeye Doyle).

The Seven-Ups[edit]

Hickman performed a chase sequence for the 1973 film The Seven-Ups (in which Hickman again worked with Philip D'Antoni, who had also produced Bullitt and The French Connection). In The Seven-Ups, Hickman drove the car being chased by the star of the film, Roy Scheider, who is doubled by Hickman's friend and fellow stuntman, Jerry Summers. The chase itself leans heavily on the Bullitt chase, with the two cars bouncing down the gradients of uptown New York (à la San Francisco's steep hills) with Hickman's 1973 Pontiac Grand Ville pursued at wheel-breaking speed by Scheider's Pontiac Ventura.

William

In the accompanying behind-the-scenes featurette of the 2006 DVD, Hickman can be seen co-ordinating the chase from the street, where it can be seen how dangerous these sequences were: on cue, a stuntman in a parked car opens his door, only to have Hickman's vehicle take it completely off its hinges, where (from the behind-the-scenes footage) we see the door fly off at force, missing only by chance the close-quarter camera team set-up only yards away. The end of the chase was Bill's own idea, an 'homage' to the death of Jayne Mansfield, where one of the cars smashes into the back of an eighteen-wheel truck, peeling off its roof like a tin of sardines.

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Later work[edit]

Hickman moved on to more stunt coordination work in films as the 1970s wound down, notably The Hindenburg and Capricorn One. He staged the motorcycle chase in Electra Glide In Blue, starring Robert Blake, and also appeared as a driver in the 1969 Disney film The Love Bug and as the military driver for George C. Scott in the Academy Award-winning movie Patton.

Hickman had many bit parts in classic television series of the 1950s and 1960s, such as Bat Masterson, The Man from UNCLE and Batman (TV series). In one year (1957), he had the rare distinction of being cast as the assailant who slices Frank Sinatra’s vocal chords in The Joker Is Wild and whips Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock.

Death[edit]

Bill Hickman died of cancer in 1986 at the age of 65 in Indio, California.

Credited acting roles[edit]

  • Salute to the Marines (1943) - Marine (uncredited)
  • See Here, Private Hargrove (1944) - (uncredited)
  • The Beginning or the End (1947) - Barometric Observer (uncredited)
  • It Happened in Brooklyn (1947) - Passerby on Street (uncredited)
  • Tulsa (1949) - Bill, the Caterpillar tractor driver at oilfield fire (uncredited)
  • To Please a Lady (1950) - Mike's Pit Crew
  • Meet Me After the Show (1951) - Court Bailiff (uncredited)
  • Iron Man (1951) - Fight Crowd Spectator (uncredited)
  • Angels in the Outfield (1951) - 1st Reporter (uncredited)
  • The Unknown Man (1951) - Reporter in Courtroom (uncredited)
  • Fixed Bayonets! (1951) - (uncredited)
  • Because You're Mine (1952) - G.I. (uncredited)
  • My Pal Gus (1952) - Courtroom Photographer (uncredited)
  • Code Two (1953) - Motorcycle Officer (uncredited)
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) - Ship Passenger (uncredited)
  • Loophole (1954) - Bank Customer (uncredited)
  • Lucky Me (1954) - Passerby on Street / Diner (uncredited)
  • Woman's World (1954) - Restaurant Patron (uncredited)
  • Phffft (1954) - Studio Technician (uncredited)
  • A Bullet for Joey (1955) - Macklin's bodyguard / driver (uncredited)
  • The Far Horizons (1955) - Member of the expedition (uncredited)
  • Love Me or Leave Me (1955) - Nightclub Patron (uncredited)
  • He Laughed Last (1956) - Bartender (uncredited)
  • The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956) - Moviegoer at Premiere (uncredited)
  • Ten Thousand Bedrooms (1957) - Party Guest (uncredited)
  • Appointment with a Shadow (1957) - Farrell - Police Detective (uncredited)
  • The Joker Is Wild (1957) - Hood with Knife (uncredited)
  • The Helen Morgan Story (1957) - Party Guest (uncredited)
  • Raintree County (1957) - Townsman (uncredited)
  • Jailhouse Rock (1957) - Guard Who Whips Vince (uncredited)
  • Kiss Them for Me (1957) - Party Guest (uncredited)
  • Houseboat (1958) - Handsome Man (uncredited)
  • The Mating Game (1959) - Fleeing Office Worker (uncredited)
  • The Beat Generation (1959) - Man in Lineup (uncredited)
  • Don't Give Up the Ship (1959) - Guardsman (uncredited)
  • Home from the Hill (1960) - Bartender (uncredited)
  • Bat Masterson (1960) - (two episodes) Topaz & Binns
  • Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962) - Driver in Bird Walk Scene (uncredited)
  • Johnny Cool (1963) - Minor Role (uncredited)
  • Take Her, She's Mine (1963) - Wolf-Whistler Who Drives Into Mailbox (uncredited)
  • Point Blank (1967) - Reese's Guard on Balcony (uncredited)
  • Bullitt (1968) - Phil
  • The Love Bug (1968) - Driver #8
  • Patton (1970) - Patton's Driver
  • Zabriskie Point (1970) - Gun store owner / Clerk (uncredited)
  • The French Connection (1971) - Bill Mulderig
  • The War Between Men and Women (1972) - Large Gentleman
  • Hickey & Boggs (1972) - Monte
  • The Seven-Ups (1973) - Bo (final film role)

References[edit]

William (mike) Hickman Laptops & Desktops Driver Download

External links[edit]

  • Bill Hickman at IMDb
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