Biography: Short Version
Chris Hicks was the movie critic at Salt Lake City's Deseret News for 20 years. After 30 years at the newspaper he retired but continues to write his weekly column and Blu-ray/DVD reviews. He also reviewed movies for KSL TV-Ch. 5 and KSL Radio for 13 years and for one year at KUTV-Ch. 2. Chris is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost It's Mind? A Parent's Guide to Movie Ratings," published May 1, 2013, precisely 20 years after his first book, "How to Pick a Family Flick." He plans to write another book 20 years from now.
Biography: Long-Winded Version
Chris Hicks was born in Long Beach, Calif., in August 1948, and was raised in nearby Lakewood. His parents were movie buffs and in addition to watching old pictures on that newfangled gadget called "television," they began taking Chris and his younger brother to movies (both drive-ins and walk-ins) when the boys were very young. This sparked a particular interest in Chris and from his early childhood he educated himself about all kinds of films, new, old, silent, foreign-language and every genre — whatever he could catch on the local TV stations in the 1950s and '60s, in local theaters, at the local library (which screened movies for kids on 16mm prints each Saturday morning), and, whenever he could successfully nag his parents into taking him, at vintage-movie revival theaters in Los Angeles.
Chris' parents were surprised at the scope of his interest in movies (and TV series) but since he was also a reader and enjoyed music, and he could even be found occasionally heading outdoors to catch butterflies and pollywogs or play kick-the-can and hide-and-seek with friends, they didn't worry too much. Although his father could occasionally be heard to mutter, "What's wrong with that boy?" Especially when Chris insisted the 13-inch black-and-white Sylvania be turned to whatever Los Angeles channel was showing a silent movie or a foreign-language film with subtitles. When "The Jolson Story" aired on a local channel's "Million Dollar Movie" every night for a week, Chris was so taken with it that he watched it every night and then went out and spent his allowance on some Al Jolson records. By this time, Jolson had been dead for several years and his style of music was so antiquated that Chris' father took to telling people that his son was 40 years old when he was born.
After high school and a less-than-stellar first year of college at Long Beach State (before it was a university), Chris found himself in the Army where he served in Vietnam and Germany. He also married and began a family while in the service. Following three years in the military Chris and his family returned to California but after one year relocated to Ogden, Utah, where they lived for seven years. Chris worked in the finance industry and held various part-time jobs, then took advantage of the GI Bill to return to higher education, attending Weber State College (before it was a university). After majoring in business he switched in his final year to journalism, becoming editor of the school paper, the Signpost, then working as a stringer for the Associated Press (his first byline story was in the Salt Lake Tribune), which led to a full-time job as a reporter on the city desk of the Ogden Standard-Examiner. Two years later, he moved to Salt Lake City to take a job on the Deseret News city desk.
Chris joined the Deseret News in January 1978 and in June of that year wrote his first professional movie review. During his two years on the city desk, Chris freelanced movie reviews to the feature/entertainment section, then was transferred there in 1980 as the paper's first full-time film critic, a position he held for 20 years. In 1982 he was hired by KSL-Ch. 5 to work part time as its "movie specialist," appearing on a wide variety of news programs over the next 13 years. During that same period he also worked for KSL Radio, appearing on a number of shows with Bob Lee, Danny Kramer and others, then in a regular weekly spot with Tom Bock. Eventually, Chris began working Friday mornings with Doug Wright and together they developed "The Movie Show," a two-hour call-in program. There was also a short-lived weekly TV version in the early '90s. In 1995, Chris parted company with KSL but the radio "Movie Show" continues today with Doug and Steve Salles, former movie critic for the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
After being off the air for 12 months, Chris was lured back to television by KUTV-Ch. 2, where he reviewed movies twice a week on the morning news for a year. At this point, Chris decided that reviewing all the movies was taking its toll, especially as major films began to emphasize special effects, superheroes, gory horror and sleazy comedy. So he gave up the movie-critic mantle and accepted a Deseret News management position, while still writing a weekly column and, eventually, DVD reviews. Today Chris is retired but still contributes his column and Blu-ray/DVD reviews to the Deseret News on a freelance basis.
Although in the 1980s and '90s he was often the only one in the room who had seen all of the "Friday the 13th" and "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Porky's" films, after leaving the full-time beat Chris is now proud to admit that he's never seen any of the "Saw" or "Hostel" movies and wasn't even tempted by "Bridesmaids."
In the early 1980s, Chris' first wife left the family and he began raising his seven children on his own. In the late '80s Ch. 5 was producing a five-days-a-week newsmagazine program called "Prime Time Access," and Chris appeared on the show each Wednesday, which also happened to be the one night each week that Joyce Dearing was working KSL's front desk as a part-time receptionist.
They struck up a friendship, began dating and the next April were married, blending a rather large family with Chris' seven kids and Joyce's five. The children are grown and on their own now and have given their parents grandkids galore. Chris and Joyce celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in 2013 and are now looking forward to limping toward their 50th.
Left, Joyce Dearing in December 1987; right, Chris and Joyce more recently.