In this Article, Arthur Hunnicutt was an acclaimed American actor known for portraying wise, old and often comedic rural figures in movies and television. Nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in The Big Sky (1952), as well as Sugarfoot (1957-1961), his unforgettable voice, beard and charisma made him an unforgettable and beloved presence within entertainment industry.
Early Life and Career
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Hunnicutt was born February 17, 1910, in Gravelly, Arkansas and attended Arkansas State Teachers College but dropped out due to lack of funds. Instead he joined a theatre company in Massachusetts before moving to New York. Once there he found acting roles both on Broadway and off; most notable was playing Tobacco Road’s lead role – depicting poor farmers from Georgia; also, appearing in some short films until finally returning back to stage performance in 1944.
Hollywood Success and Recognition
Hunnicutt returned to Hollywood and resumed his film career in 1949, playing supporting roles primarily as sympathetic, wise, and grizzled rural types. Working alongside some of Hollywood’s finest directors and actors such as Howard Hawks, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas he earned critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination for his performance as Zeb Calloway in The Big Sky (1952). Additionally he had notable roles in The Red Badge of Courage (1951), The Lusty Men (1952), The Last Command (1955 – Davy Crockett) The Tall T (1957- Cat Ballou (1965- Butch Cassidy) El Dorado (1966).
Hunnicutt also made his mark on television, appearing in nearly 40 guest roles across various shows. He became best-known for playing Toothy Thompson – an old deputy marshal and mentor figure to young lawyer Tom Brewster on Sugarfoot (1957-1961). Additionally he guest starred on Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and The Twilight Zone.
Personal Life and Death
Hunnicutt married Pauline “Pebbles” Lile in 1940 and together they had one child, whom he named as their only one. Additionally he served as honorary mayor of Northridge in Los Angeles until 1978, when cancer of the tongue was detected; on September 26, 1979 at age 69 he passed away and was interred at Coop Prairie Cemetery near Mansfield Arkansas.
Arthur Hunnicutt was an accomplished actor renowned for bringing life and humor to his rural characters. Admired by both peers and fans alike, he left behind an extensive library of memorable performances that will continue to live on.