June 13, 1910 - October 22, 1995
"Women like me. They think I'm wholesome or something."
Everyone knows who Mary Wickes was, if not by name, certainly by appearance.
She was, without a doubt, one of the best-known character actresses ever. Probably
most famous to the "now" generation as Sister Mary Lazarus, the older
hook nosed nun in Sister Act, she was also in White Christmas, Now
Voyager, The Music Man, and Postcards from the Edge. She also
did a ton of television: she was cousin Octavia on The Waltons, she was
in Sigmund & the Sea Monstersand I Love Lucy, where she
famously played Lucys ballet teacher. In real life, Mary was a good friend
with Lucy, which was no easy feat. Her last role was the voice of a gargoyle in
Disneys The Hunchback of Notre Dame, completed a few days before her
Heres something interesting: the LA Times listed her age as 85 in her
obituary, yet her death certificate says she was only 79. Other sources say she
was 83. I dunno. The woman was old. And funny.
In 1995, She was living at 2160 Century
Park East, in LA.
Here is her
When I was taking the photographs, a woman who lives there told me
that Don Adams and Fay Wray still live there. In October, Mary was in good
health, but was taken to the UCLA Medical Center
for respiratory problems.
During her stay, Mary fell and broke her hip,
prompting surgery. She died of complications following that surgery. She was as
old as she was.
Findadeath.com friend Scott Williams
sends in this explanation of Mary's cause of death, for which we are truly
Immediate cause of death:
1) Acute Renal Failure: Can't make pee. Shut
down or death of the Kidneys. Poisons and fluids (as well as Medications) cannot
be voided and back up and overload the body to toxic levels.
2) Massive Gastrointestinal Bleed. Shitting
blood. Can be from a bleeding ulcer or tumor in the stomach, esophagus, or
intestines. These can be massive and sudden and unexpected, and kill you quick;
or be so slight and slow that no symptoms are seen. Of course, the word
"Massive" is used here. Note the "Peptic Ulcer" (same thing)
under "other". She had a history of "G.I. Bleed" and
intestinal ulceration. By the way, an ulcer, by definition, is an infected sore
of the gastro-intestinal lining that goes below the mucosal protactive layer and
invades the flesh of the organ, causing bleeding.
3) Severe Hypotension: Super low blood
pressure. She couldn't keep her pressure up.( I wonder just how long she HAD
been bleeding). The death cert notes this as "weeks" in duration. This
could be a complication of continuous G.I. Bleeding at a steady rate before it
became "Massive", or related to a failing heart, see 4.
4) Ischemic Cariomyopathy: Clogged heart
arteries. The chronic lack of adequate blood / oxygen supply to the heart making
it weaker by the day. Note again, in "other", Myocardial infarction,
or plainly, Heart Attack. Again, history of heart damage. "Ischemic"
means literally "lack of oxygen" applying specifically to tissues.
Cardiomyopathy implies a long term heart condition, always progressive, until
too few cells are left alive to pump, or the heart is so scarred and enlarged
that, even pumping, it can't contract completely, or empty itself efficiently
enough, to support an adequate blood pressure to supply the tissues and organs
with an adequate oxygen supply.
Two other things in the "Other conditions / aka
"Contributing factors", are "Anemia", which is simply
"not enough red blood cells in the blood", as well as "Breast
Mary was a confirmed bachelor (read DYKE), and had no surviving family. Her funeral was
held at All Saints Episcopal Church,
in Beverly Hills, the following Saturday afternoon.
I went, but couldnt get
in. Had to stand outside and listen to Lucie Arnaz Lucked-up-enbill speak. I
remember Kathy Najimy was there, looking good, Tracy Nelson (Mary was also in The
Father Dowling Mysteries), and the guy that USED to play Edward Quartermaine
on General Hospital, not the more recent, horrible one. I do remember them
taking Marys casket out, and hearing her clunking around in there. She was
not a tiny lady. Here is a copy of the funeral
Anyway, according to the information I have, Mary was then cremated and flown
back east for burial. The cemetery I have listed is the Shiloh Cemetery, in
Shiloh, Illinois. BTW, Mary was born in St. Louis.
UPDATE, MARCH 2001:
Findadeath.com friends, Sandy and Chris, ventured to the
cemetery, and snapped this
great pic of Mary's tombstone.
Thanks guys. My pal, Jim, told me
that Mary is buried only 20 feet from Abraham Lincoln's parents. Great
Correction, December 2001: I am something of a "Lincoln buff" and wanted to set that straight.
Abraham's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, is buried in Southern Indiana, having died from "milk sickness". Afterward his father, Thomas Lincoln remarried Sarah Bush Lincoln and the family moved to rural Coles County, which is quite a ways from St Clair county, the location of Shiloh according to their website.
Tom and Sarah Lincoln are buried in Coles County. - Donald Gorsage
Mary had a lot of money when she died. She made a $2 million bequest, made in
memory of her parents, which has become the Isabella and Frank Wickenhauser (her birth
name) Memorial Library Fund for Television, Film and Theater Arts. Maybe
she was a cheapskate. I wrote her a fan letter a few years back,
requesting an autograph. She responded, but all she did was cut off the
bottom of my letter, and sign it. Usually people send signed
photographs. Honestly, she didn't have to respond at all, but I just
thought it was odd. Here it
Her personal correspondence is sealed until 2027 by request of the Trustee of
the Mary Wickes Estate. That would be an interesting read, but then, Im just
December 2004, from Findadeath friend Bob:
Thanks for the info you posted on the passing of Mary Wickes and her
final resting place.
She was always one of my favourite character actresses, and it is
amazing how many projects she worked on over the length of her career.
I laughed when you commented about her "lifelong bachelor" status.
remember being in the audience for the old game show "Tattletales",
which featured three celebrity couples, competing to see how well the
knew each other, and seeing Mary during one of the taping sessions. She
was on with a male friend, another character actor who always played
foppish queens, which was definitely not a stretch for him. I can't
remember the guy's name, but I had guessed at the time that being gay
was something they had in common.
Thanks for filling in some of the blanks about this greatly missed