Helen Hayes


Actor
Helen Hayes

About

Also Known As
Helen Hayes Brown
Birth Place
Washington, Washington D.C., USA
Born
October 10, 1900
Died
March 17, 1993
Cause of Death
Heart Failure

Biography

This 'First Lady of the American Theater' began her illustrious eight-decade-long career as a child actress on the Washington stage at age five. By age nine, Hayes had made her Broadway debut and was soon starring as the embodiment of sunny optimism, "Pollyanna." Around the same time, she made her film debut in the 1910 short "Jean and the Calico Cat" and appeared in other New York-produ...

Photos & Videos

The Sin of Madelon Claudet - Helen Hayes Publicity Still
Arrowsmith - Movie Poster
Herbie Rides Again - Pressbook

Family & Companions

Charles MacArthur
Husband
Playwright, screenwriter. Married August 17, 1928 until his death April 21, 1956; met c. 1925; married despite opposition from the Catholic church as he was already married when they met.

Bibliography

"My Life in Three Acts"
Helen Hayes (1990)
"Where Truth Lies"
Helen Hayes (1988)
"Loving Life"
Helen Hayes (1987)
"Our Best Years"
Helen Hayes (1986)

Notes

Helen Hayes was one of eight individuals (Rita Moreno, Audrey Hepburn, John Gielgud, Richard Rodgers, Marvin Hamlisch, Mel Brooks and Mike Nichols are the others) to have won all four of the major entertainment awards (Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy) in competition.

Hayes along with Rita Moreno, John Gielgud and Audrey Hepburn hold the distinction of having received each of the four major entertainment awards (Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy) in competition.

Biography

This 'First Lady of the American Theater' began her illustrious eight-decade-long career as a child actress on the Washington stage at age five. By age nine, Hayes had made her Broadway debut and was soon starring as the embodiment of sunny optimism, "Pollyanna." Around the same time, she made her film debut in the 1910 short "Jean and the Calico Cat" and appeared in other New York-produced films as a juvenile.

As a young adult, the petite, sweet-featured but plain-looking Hayes triumphed in a series of comic ingenue roles, most notably in "Dear Brutus," during the 1920s. ("I was squeezing cuteness out of my greasepaint tubes and scooping charm out of my cold cream jars," she later said.) She also proved herself a serious dramatic performer and was acclaimed for her humanized, accessible portrayals of British queens, in Maxwells Anderson's "Mary of Scotland" (1933) and--a touchstone performance--"Victoria Regina" (1935).

Hayes won an Oscar for her Hollywood debut in the weepie, "The Sin of Madelon Claudet" (1931), scripted by her husband Charles MacArthur, and was also hailed for her work in Frank Borzage's "A Farewell to Arms" (1932) and for reprising her stage role in "What Every Woman Knows" (1934) as a seemingly self-effacing, manipulative wife. Nonetheless, by 1935 MGM had given up trying to make a movie star out of her and Hayes returned to the stage for the next 15 years.

Hayes did not return to films until she was ready for character parts, beginning with her performance as the over-wrought mother of a communist son in "My Son John" (1952), followed by her moving work as the judgmental grand duchess in "Anastasia" (1956). Retiring from the stage in 1971, she found herself in demand as "cute," feisty characters, like the eccentric passenger in "Airport" (1970), a performance which netted her a second Oscar. During the same period she became a fixture in Disney films like "Herbie Rides Again" (1974) and "Candleshoe" (1977), starred opposite Mildred Natwick as mystery writers-turned-sleuths on the TV series "The Snoop Sisters" (1973-74) and even essayed the role of Agatha Christie detective Miss Marple in the 1983 made-for-TV movie "The Carribean Mystery."

Hayes was married to playwright-screenwriter Charles MacArthur from 1928 until his death in 1956; their son, James MacArthur, is an actor.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992)
Route One/U.S.A. (1989)
Herself
Agatha Christie's Murder With Mirrors (1985)
Agatha Christie's A Caribbean Mystery (1983)
Agatha Christie's Murder Is Easy (1982)
Hopper's Silence (1981)
Narrator
A Family Upside Down (1978)
Candleshoe (1977)
Victory at Entebbe (1976)
One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing (1975)
Helen Hayes: Portrait of an American Actress (1974)
Herself
Herbie Rides Again (1974)
Harvey (1972)
The Snoop Sisters (1972)
Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate (1971)
Airport (1970)
Ada Quonsett
Third Man on the Mountain (1959)
Tourist
Anastasia (1956)
Dowager empress
Main Street to Broadway (1953)
Herself
My Son John (1952)
Lucille Jefferson
Stage Door Canteen (1943)
Vanessa: Her Love Story (1935)
Vanessa [Paris]
What Every Woman Knows (1934)
Maggie Wylie
Crime Without Passion (1934)
Night Flight (1933)
Simone Fabian
The White Sister (1933)
Angela Chiaromonte
Another Language (1933)
Stella [Hallam]
The Son-Daughter (1932)
Lien Wha
A Farewell to Arms (1932)
Catherine Barkley
Arrowsmith (1931)
Leora Tozer Arrowsmith
The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931)
Madelon [Claudet]
A Rodeo Mixup (1924)
Her maid
Riders of the Range (1923)
Inez
Weavers of Life (1917)
Peggy

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Route One/U.S.A. (1989)
Other
Helen Hayes: Portrait of an American Actress (1974)
Other

Cast (Special)

Wildflowers With Helen Hayes (1992)
Narrator
Helen Hayes: First Lady of the American Theatre (1991)
Night of 100 Stars III (1990)
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1988)
Performer
The National AIDS Awareness Test: What Do You Know About Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome? (1987)
The 41st Annual Tony Awards (1987)
Performer
The Ten-Year Lunch: The Wit and Legend of the Algonquin Round Table (1987)
The 40th Annual Tony Awards (1986)
Performer
Broadway Plays Washington! (1982)
End of Summer (1977)
The Bat (1960)
Cornelia Van Gorder
Ah, Wilderness! (1959)

Cast (Short)

Hollywood Goes to Town (1938)
Herself

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Moneychangers (1976)

Life Events

1905

Professional stage debut at age five as Prince Charles in the Columbia Players production of "The Royal Family" in Washington

1909

Broadway acting debut, "Old Dutch" (under the management of Lew Fields)

1910

Short film debut, "Jean and the Calico Cat"

1916

Starred on Broadway as the title character in "Pollyanna"; toured with production through 1918

1917

Feature film debut, "The Weavers of Life"

1931

First major Hollywood film, "The Sin of Madelon Claudet"

1933

Made transition from popular stage actress to serious actress with the title role in Maxwell Anderson's "Mary of Scotland"

1935

Starred on Broadway as Queen Victoria in "Victoria Regina"; toured in play through 1938

1940

Hosted own radio program, "The Helen Hayes Theatre"

1948

London stage debut as Amanda Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie" (directed by John Gielgud)

1950

TV debut in "The Late Christopher Bean" on "Pulitzer Prize Playhouse"

1950

Returned to New York stage after daughter's death in "The Wisteria Tree"

1951

Debut as a stage producer on Broadway, "Mary Rose"

1955

Fulton Theater on Broadway, renamed the Helen Hayes Theater in her honor (razed in 1984 to make way for the Marriott Marquis Hotel)

1955

Paris stage debut as Mrs Antrobus in "The Skin of Our Teeth"

1961

Travelled through 28 different countries throughout South America and Europe on a US State Department sponsored tour starring in "The Glass Menagerie" and "The Skin of Our Teeth"

1964

Formed the Helen Hayes Repertory Company, which sponsored university tours of Shakespeare recitals

1966

Joined the APA-Phoenix Repertory Company

1971

Retired from the stage due to an allergic reaction to stage dust

1984

Second theater (formerly the Little Theater) renamed in her honor as the Helen Hayes Theater (after the previous theater was razed to build a hotel on the site)

1992

Hospitalized for exhaustion February

Photo Collections

The Sin of Madelon Claudet - Helen Hayes Publicity Still
The Sin of Madelon Claudet - Helen Hayes Publicity Still
Arrowsmith - Movie Poster
Here is the original American one-sheet movie poster for Arrowsmith (1931), starring Ronald Colman. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Herbie Rides Again - Pressbook
Here is the original campaign book (pressbook) for Disney's Herbie Rides Again (1974). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.
Herbie Rides Again - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Disney's Herbie Rides Aagain (1974). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

What Every Woman Knows (1934) - I'm An Individual Collectivist! First scene for Helen Hayes, as chronically un-married Maggie, returning to her Scottish home town with brother David (Donald Crisp), met by other brother James (Dudley Digges) with news of another failed romance, all meeting young porter Shand (Brian Aherne), in What Every Woman Knows, 1934, from a J.M. Barrie play.
Farewell To Arms, A (1932) - There's A War On Adolphe Menjou is Italian Rinaldi, annoyed as his WWI American ambulance driver pal Henry (Gary Cooper) has snuck off with his beloved English nurse Catherine (Helen Hayes), mangled Hemingway but the outcome clear enough, in the pre-code A Farewell To Arms, 1932.
Candleshoe (1977) - Two Teeny Weeny Lumps Con man Bundage (Leo McKern) and his recruited partner Casey (Jodie Foster) in their first meeting with their mark, the maybe-dotty Lady St. Edmund (Helen Hayes), her butler Priory (David Niven) already onto their game, in Disney's Candleshoe, 1977.
Candleshoe (1977) - You've Become Tiresome And Crotchety Butler Priory (David Niven) is forced into a quick change from his identity as the gardener Gipping in order to preserve appearances for Lady St. Edmund (Helen Hayes), Jodie Foster and the other kids helping, in Disney's Candleshoe, 1977.
What Every Woman Knows (1934) - I Never Laughed In Me Life! The Scottish Wylies (Helen Hayes as notably un-married Maggie, Donald Crisp and Dudley Digges her brothers, David Torrence her father) discover that the person sneaking into their library has been local train porter Shand (Brian Aherne), who acquits himself ably, early in MGM’s What Every Woman Knows, 1934.
Vanessa, Her Love Story (1935) - That Wild Strain Of Blood After a prologue on family history and gypsy blood, Otto Kruger introduces those celebrating the 100th birthday of Lady Paris (May Robson), Violet Kemble Cooper, Henry Stephenson, Lewis Stone, star Helen Hayes, and leading man Robert Montgomery intruding, in MGM’s Vanessa, Her Love Story, 1935.
Vanessa, Her Love Story (1935) - One Wild Night In Persia Days before their wedding, rogue-ish Benji (Robert Montgomery) and cousin Helen Hayes (title character), optimistic, as she explains to her father (Lewis Stone), who hasn’t mentioned his heart condition, when tragic events ensue, in Vanessa, Her Love Story, 1935, adapted from the Hugh Walpole novel.
Farewell To Arms, A (1932) - The Marne And The Piave Opening scene introducing American ambulance driver Frederic (Gary Cooper), at the hospital where British nurse Catherine (Helen Hayes) is eavesdropping, in A Farewell To Arms, from Ernest Hemingway's semi-autobiographical novel.
Night Flight (1933) - Paraguay In The Dark Airline boss Riviere (John Barrymore) cracking the whip in Buenos Aires, some extended atmosphere and photography breaks, and flier Fabian (Clark Gable, scarcely seen) making the trip, and his wife Simone (Helen Hayes, her first scene), checking his progress, in Night Flight, 1933.
Airport (1970) - He's Got A Bomb! Stewardess Gwen (Jacqueline Bisset) and pilot Demerest (Dean Martin) are actually in league with elderly stowaway Mrs. Quonsett (Helen Hayes), whom they’ve enlisted to help create a diversion because they know Guerrero (Van Heflin), sitting next to her, has a bomb, in Airport, 1970.
Arrowsmith (1931) - Open, Goin' West Director John Ford must have loved the scene in the covered wagon, featuring Charlotte Henry, from the opening of Samuel Goldwyn's 1931 production of Sinclair Lewis' Arrowsmith, starring Ronald Colman.
Arrowsmith (1931) - Getting Fresh First lady of the American theater (Helen Hayes, as nurse Leora) is scrubbing floors when she meets Martin (Ronald Colman), the ambitious doctor, in Samuel Goldwyn's Arrowsmith, 1931, from the Sinclair Lewis novel.

Trailer

Family

Francis Van Arnum Brown
Father
Traveling salesman.
Catherine Estell Brown
Mother
Stock company actor.
Mary MacArthur
Daughter
Born 1930, died of polio in 1949; was called an "Act of God" child--which the courts allowed when Hayes had to leave a play, breaking her contract, because of her pregnancy.
James MacArthur
Son
Actor. Born December 8, 1937; adopted with Charles MacArthur; best remembered as Danny ("Book 'em, Danno") in long-running TV series "Hawaii Five-O" (1968-79); married Joyce Bulifant.

Companions

Charles MacArthur
Husband
Playwright, screenwriter. Married August 17, 1928 until his death April 21, 1956; met c. 1925; married despite opposition from the Catholic church as he was already married when they met.

Bibliography

"My Life in Three Acts"
Helen Hayes (1990)
"Where Truth Lies"
Helen Hayes (1988)
"Loving Life"
Helen Hayes (1987)
"Our Best Years"
Helen Hayes (1986)
"Helen Hayes: First Lady of the American Theatre"
Kenneth Barrow, Doubleday (1985)
"Helen Hayes: Portrait of an American Actress"
(1974)
"On Reflection"
Helen Hayes (1969)
"Twice Over Lightly"
Helen Hayes and Anita Loos (1969)
"A Gift of Joy"
Helen Hayes (1965)

Notes

Helen Hayes was one of eight individuals (Rita Moreno, Audrey Hepburn, John Gielgud, Richard Rodgers, Marvin Hamlisch, Mel Brooks and Mike Nichols are the others) to have won all four of the major entertainment awards (Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy) in competition.

Hayes along with Rita Moreno, John Gielgud and Audrey Hepburn hold the distinction of having received each of the four major entertainment awards (Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy) in competition.

"Miss Hayes does not have personality that dazzles the public; she does not behave like a star ... but put her on the stage and raise the curtain, and something happens to the audience. She was perfectly cast when she played in Barrie's "What Every Woman Knows"--a mousy, unassertive woman who has a powerful influence on other people." --Brooks Atkinson

"I had never yearned to be an actress because I always was one. I never dreamed of a career--because I always had one. For sixty years I've heard, 'Two minutes, Miss Hayes,' and I've sprinted onto the stage. It's become a reflex. Pavlov's Actress, that's me." --Helen Hayes in her autobiography "A Gift of Joy" (1965).

[She played] "the brave wife of "Arrowsmith". Everybody got very uptight when Helen Hayes reached for that plague-soaked cigarette. It was always rewarding to watch Helen Hayes die. The death scene in "A Farewell to Arms", in which Miss Hayes played Hemingway's little war nurse, tore at your tearducts in the most untheatrical way." --John Springer ("They Had Faces Then", 1974)

She received the Drama League of New York Medal for her performance in "Victoria Regina" (1935).

Awarded the Medal of Arts from Finland.

She was given the American Exemplar Medal from the Freedom Foundation in 1978.

Received the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame University in 1979.

Presented with the Medal of Freedom Award from former President Reagan (1988).

US Mint struck a commemorative gold coin bearing her likeness (1984)

She was the president of the American National Theatre and Academy (1951-53).

Named honorary president of the American Theatre Wing.

She served as second president of the Actors Fund

She chaired the women's activities for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

Awarded honorary L.H.D. from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York (1939) and Smith College in Elmira, New York (1940).

Received a honorary Litt.D. from Columbia University (1949) and University of Denver (1952).

She was awarded an honorary doctorate by Princeton University and St. Mary's College

Given the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Leadership Award in 1991