Not Mr. Hickok, but William A. Wellman, one of Hollywood's iconic "Golden Age" directors. Wellman was born in Brookline, MA in 1896, and lived up to his nickname. He was expelled from high school for dropping a stink bomb on the principal's head, and he was noted as a ferociously competitive ice hockey player. (Douglas Fairbanks Sr. once watched him play ... and remembered him. Wellman, the story goes, was not reluctant to brawl with opponents.)
Before the U.S. entered World War I, Bill Wellman was off to Europe as an ambulance driver, but soon joined the French Foreign Legion and the Lafayette Flying Corps. He flew in combat for four months and was credited with three official "kills" and five more "probables" before getting shot down ("by ground fire!" he once said disdainfully) and breaking lots of bones ... which left him with a limp and -- years later -- crippling arthritis. Bill W. left the foreign legion in 1918 and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, but the war ended before he could return to combat. Training new pilots in San Diego, he would fly to L.A. on weekends at the invitation of Doug Fairbanks. Doug got Wellman an acting job in movies after he was discharged, but Wild Bill hated emoting before a camera and soon quit, working his way up through the studio system to director.
Wellman directed live-action features for the next thirty-five years. His most notable silent film is "Wings" ("Best Picture" Oscar, 1927). A sampling of his sound movies would include "A Star is Born" (which won him the Academy Award for Best Story), "Nothing Sacred", "Beau Geste", "Island In the Sky", and "The High and the Mighty". (And Wild Bill's last screen credit? "Story by" on the 2018 "Star is Born" remake.)
But TWO of W.B.'s more notable works, both released in the month of May, were ...
"THE PUBLIC ENEMY" (May 15, 1931)
The movie that made James Cagney a star. Wellman promised Warners production chief Darryl Zanuck the most violent, slam-bang gangster picture yet made, and delivered the goods. Shootings, beatings, and James Cagney falling through the front door stone dead at the end. The scene where Cagney smashes a grapefruit into Mae Clarke's face was concocted by Wellman. The writers had written a scene where cooked eggs were used, but Wellman decided that was too messy. (Mae Clarke -- the victim -- wasn't crazy about EITHER breakfast food being smashed into her face, but ... you know ... 1931.)
"THE OX-BOW INCIDENT" (May 21, 1943)
Bill Wellman had wanted to direct Walter Van Tilburg Clark's novel about a lynching in the old West for years, but a producer at Paramount held the rights. When the producer got fired and needed money, Wellman bought rights to the book for $6,500.
And then he couldn't get the story made, because no studio head wanted to do it. (Apparently nobody thought a grim story about multiple hangings was commercial. Who would have guessed?)
Darryl Zanuck, now head of 20th-Century Fox, didn't like the property any better than the other moguls, but he agreed to do it with a half-million dollar budget ... IF Bill Wellman would agree to make two other movies at Fox. Which Wellman did.
And, in case you're wondering, those other two pictures that Wild Bill got roped into directing were "Thunder Birds", a Technicolor World War II aviation picture that received so-so reviews but made money ... and "Buffalo Bill", a big-budget Western. Wellman didn't care for it, nor did Maureen O'Hara and many of the other actors. But that didn't prevent the movie from being one of Fox's highest grossing features of 1944.
And "The Ox-Bow Incident"? Despite the low budget, the black-and-white Western starring Henry Fonda, Harry Morgan and Jane Darwell failed to turn a profit. Some of that was due to the subject matter, but the other reason is that Zanuck gave the movie a mediocre release. It only turned a profit after it was theatrically re-issued. And today, of course, is considered a classic.