Gerald Hiken
1927 - 2021
{ "" }
Share
Share Gerald's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Gerald Hiken
May 23rd, 1927-January 6th 2021
Gerald Hiken lived 93 years, 60 of them alongside his wife Barbara Lerner Hiken. He died at home on January 6th 2021 surrounded by love. Fun, funny, a prolific storyteller, brilliant in unexpected ways, he had a genius for helping you understand yourself and your complicated life situations. Talented, he had golden hands with which he could and did do anything.
After graduating in 1949 from the University of Wisconsin, Gerry got in a Jeep and went all over the country working in Repertory Theater, once with Geraldine Page in the company. In the 1950's he went to New York and always landed the parts. It was there that he met Barbara while working on the soap opera Love of Life.
In 1964 he left New York to start the graduate repertory theatre program at Stanford University. Later, he teamed with Paul E. Richards in an original 2-man theater before returning to Broadway, television and movies. He also toured as a dancer with the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company.
Over the next 65 years as a celebrated master actor, he was recognized by greats such as Helen Hays, Laurence Olivier, and Jerome Robbins, and was a favorite of Lee Strasberg at the New York Actor's Studio. Considered a leading Chekhovian interpreter of his time, he received a nomination for the Best Actor Tony in 1979's Strider. He also won an Obie and a Derwent award. His creative community greatly admired him, and he acted in many companies all over the San Francisco Bay Aea.
Always ahead of his time, he was the first male dance student at the University of Wisconsin, and in the 1970's, he corralled his grumpy teenage children into going with him as he played amateur trombone in the Los Trancos Woods Community Marching Band.
A generous mentor teacher, and a believer in being of service, he gave freely of his acting knowledge and friendship to any who sought it, requesting only a little lunch in return. At the onset of the AIDS epidemic Gerry volunteered to be a Los Angeles AIDS Project buddy, bringing meals and companionship to patients and families.
He never stopped learning and making art, writing his own one man shows based on works he loved. Inspired by a college course in Native American studies, he planned an epic cross state family vacation with his (by then less grumpy adult children) to explore historic sites such as Hovenweep, the Anasazi cliff dwellings and the Four Corners area.
He wrote two books, Afraid to Look, an Autobiography, and So You Want To Be an Actor. His work can be found on Youtube and the IMDB under Gerald Hiken.
He anchored a loving home and family, and leaves behind his wife Barbara, daughter Nina and son Noah. They will miss him always.


To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Jan. 11 to Jan. 12, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
11 entries
February 23, 2021
I met Gerry through a Hiken Family Friend, and I became one too--it was easy, the easiest and warmest group friendship I ever had. (Liverpool Rummy! That was my card!) I also got mentorship as an actor ("This is the one thing I learned from Lee Strasberg...") and, one day as we were roofing his Hollywood rental unit together in the hot sun, a huge and vital gift. I looked over at Gerry, working in silence, and realized I could have any sort of life I wanted. Because he had.
My love and blessings to Hikens!
Kevin
kevin simmons
Served In Military Together
February 18, 2021
Gerry was also an amazing visual artist. A truly loving man in a loving family who would touch you with his smiling eyes. Unforgettable. He just came into my mind. I probably saw him last 33 years ago. Much love to Barbara, Nina and Noah
Charles Brenner
Friend
January 31, 2021
Ah, Gerry, though I have not seen you face to face since the closing of STRIDER at the Helen Hayes Theatre, this news of your passing took a good bit of my breath away. What fun it was working with you on stage, and chuckling with you off. You, dear man, will be missed. To your family I send condolences.

Your Gerry was the kind of guy that will forever be an "is", not a "was." I feel certain his passing does not mean the end of his presence in this world. His was a living presence in any space he occupied. His presence is living on with you and all he did in this world. Love, love, love.
Tad Ingram
Coworker
January 23, 2021
I knew Gerry and he was a real character who was always fun to be around. I gave him my bookcase.
Sandy Miranda
Friend
January 20, 2021
I remember Gerald Hiken, of blessed memory, and his dear wife Barbara with great fondness even though we met only once & I saw Jerry perform only a few times. His work remains indelible, as does his influence. Rest In Power, a great artist, teacher, human being.
Herb Felsenfeld
January 19, 2021
The first time I met Gerry it was in the nude @ the tubs of Wilbur Hot Springs. That night he “sang for his supper” in a mesmerizing reading of Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past”. Still vivid 35+ years on. He had such magic, touched so many, a and remains a great loss.
Herb Felsenfeld
Acquaintance
January 18, 2021
And added to my previous post is a photo of Gerry with my company the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company on tour in “Breathe Normally”. ❤
Margaret Jenkins
Coworker
January 18, 2021
Gerry was a great dancer and a treasure to work with - what a gift. He toured with us in 1999 in Breathe Normally and we were never the same — so many lessons learned and laughs. Hugs to family.
Margaret Jenkins
Coworker
January 13, 2021
Working with Gerry in Strider was one of the greatest honors I've ever had. He was a brilliant master class of acting. He will be missed.
Vicki Van Grack
Coworker
January 12, 2021
Gerald Hiken was not only a proper father and husband, he was a National Treasure, a "genuine actor" in the words of Helen Hayes. I was lucky enough to have met him when he was holding school workshops with Paul Richards when I was in the eighth grade, at the Palo Alto Children's Theater during a gap year from university, and after a performance of "Third" in Mountain View. He was someone you don't let get away from you in a hurry if you know what's good for you. I knew him as a student, an actor, and friend I am happy to state. If you have gone somewhere, Gerry, I'm sure you are getting them organized and into shape.
Eric Wenburg
Friend
January 12, 2021
I had the opportunity to study with Gerald when I was living in Menlo Park in the mid '70's. Among other things I can remember flying imaginary kites in the park across from Drager's grocery and handing off the kites to other adults and kids, Robin Williamsesque pantomime. Great fun and a good start to my ACT, NYU and LAMDA work later on. Rest in Peace, Gerry
Mark C Callaway
Student
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences