He appeared in nearly 300 films between 1915 and 1956. His first appearance was an uncredited role in The Birth of a Nation (1915). He often appeared as a smooth-talking confidence man, as in the West.C. Fields film The Bank Dick (1940).
Distinguished, suave and a consummate actor, Hicks played a variety of judges, corrupt officials and attorneys, working in a variety of mediums almost up until his death.
He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and died in Los Angeles, California, from a heart attack.