Arthur Lee Hunnicutt was noteworthy for playing successful character roles and supporting roles in scores of films and television shows, typically playing a wise, plain-spoken man with a distinct Arkansas drawl. He began his film career in 1942 as Watchfob Jones in Wildcat, and went on to play in many B-list westerns. In 1952 he won an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in The Big Sky, and the fame led him to becoming one of the most sought-after character actors in Hollywood.
Born in Gravelly, Yell County, Arkansas, on 17 February, 19101, Hunnicutt attended Arkansas State Teacher's College2 until his Junior year, when he dropped out due to lack of finances during the Great Depression. He then taught at a school until he had gathered enough money to attend the Phidela Rice School of Voice in Cleveland. Eventually, he moved to Martha's Vineyard and wound up landing roles on Broadway, his first notable New York engagement being in the Theatre Guild's production of Love's Old Sweet Song. He moved to Hollywood in 1949 and began appearing in films. Despite his long and varied career, his role in The Big Sky would earn his only Academy nomination.
Hunnicutt was famous for playing a man much older than his actual age. When Percy Kilbride retired at 67 years old from the Ma and Pa Kettle movie series in 1955, Hunnicutt, though only 40, essentially replaced the Pa Kettle character by playing Ma's brother-in-law, Sedge, in The Kettles in the Ozarks.
His last role was in the 1975 film, Moonrunners, in which he played an old moonshine maker, finally portraying someone near his own age.
Hunnicutt spent his last years in Woodland Hills, California, and died of cancer on 26 September, 1979. He is buried in the Coop Prairie Cemetery in Mansfield, Arkansas.
Appearances and Filmography
Hunnicutt appeared in over 54 movies, and more than 12 television series. These include Bonanza, The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Wild Wild West, Daniel Boone, The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, The Andy Griffith Show, Adam-12, Perry Mason, and numerous Disney productions.