|Subject: Archive: Jack Haley, June 6, 1979
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Date Posted: Thursday, June 06, 05:28:03pm
Jack Haley, the mellow stage and screen comedian of the 1930's and 40's who played the Tin Woodman in the movie ¡°The Wizard of Oz,¡± died yesterday in Los Angeles after having suffered a heart attack last Friday. He was 79 years old and lived in Beverly Hills, Calif.
In the 1939 Metro©\Goldwyn©\Mayer film, which has been rerun many times on television, Mr. Haley played a strange, lovable character in a child's fantasy world that charmed audiences of all ages.
He wore a metal funnel on top of his head, and his head stuck out of an outlandish metal costume. His blue Irish eyes peered painfully down on the littlegirl heroine Dorothy, who was played by Judy Garland in pigtails and a starchy frock.
The Tin Woodman was unhappy because he didn¡¯t have a heart; he couldn¡¯t have emotions. But he finally got a heart, a big red fancy one with a ticking mechanism, from the Wizard ¡ª and finally he managed to cry, so tearfully that Judy Garland feared he would rust.
¡°Now I know I have a heart,¡¯ he sobbed.
The Tin Woodman was one of several fantastic characters that Dorothy met in her wanderings in the movie. The others were the Scarecrow, played by Ray Bolger, and the Cowardly Lion, played by Bert Lahr, who died in 1967.
When ¡°The Wizard of Oz¡± was first shown, it was an instant success. The New York Times critic, Frank S. Nugent, called it ¡°a delightful piece of wonderworking which had the youngsters¡¯ eyes shining.¡±
¡°A fairybook tale has been told in the fairybook style,¡± he said.¡°It is all so wellirttentioned, so genial and so gay that any reviewer who would look down his nose at the fun©\making should be spanked and sent off, supperless, to bed.¡±
As the years passed, the film became a classic of American popular culture. It had been adapted from a book of the same title by L. Frank Baum, had music by Harold Arlen, and was produced by Mervyn LeRoy and directed by Victor Fleming. ¡°The Wizard¡± was by far the greatest success of the 50 movies in which Mr. Haley appeared.
He retired from acting after World War II and went on to great success in California real©\estate dealings, which made him a millionaire. Be was married for 52 years to Florence McFadden, a former ¡°Ziegfeld Follies¡± dancer, and their son, Jack Jr., is president of 20th Century©\Fox Television Productions.
6©\Year©\Old Singer in Boston
John Joseph Haley began charming audiences as a 6©\year©\old singer in a church festival in Boston, where he was born on Aug. 10, 1899, to John Haley, a ship's navigator, and Ellen F. Curley Haley. After graduating from high school, the youth bowed to his parents¡¯ wishes and began learning to be an electrician, but after saving up some of his earnings as an apprentice electrician, he ran away from home.
He began in professional show business as a song©\plugger in Philadelphia, then turned to song©\comedy routines in vaudeville. He began getting Broadway roles in the 20's ¡ª notably in the flimsy, tuneful 1929 musical ¡°Follow Thru,¡± which was about golf.
In the years that followed, Mr. Haley's bright blue eyes, his wavy hair and his inexaustible good humor made him sought after to fill some of the many light comic roles provided by the bountiful crops of musical comedies that Broadway produced.
In 1932 he starred opposite Ethel Merman in the deliriously forgettable muscial comedy ¡°Take a Chance.¡±
¡°Fast, loud and funny,¡± The Times critic, Brooks Atkinson, reported cheerfully to his Depression©\era readers.
¡°Jack Haley has never teetered along quite so many lunar rainbows as he does here.. .. pay no heed to the plot.¡±
On the screen as on the stage, Mr. Haley's good©\natured drollery made him widely liked, though not revered. In 1940, Mr. Atkinson wrote affectionately: ¡°There are many things wrong with show business, and with the whole world, as far as that goes, but Jack Haley is not one of them. Haley has a lot of friends who admire his talent for skylarking.¡±
In his later years, Mr. Haley made occasional returns to the movie and television screens: he appeared in ¡°Norwood,¡± a 1972 movie directed by his son. His last public appearance was on April 9 during the Academy Award presentations ¡ª a telecast that was produced by his son.
The elder Mr. Haley joined with Mr. Bolger to present one of the Oscars.
In addition to his real©\estate undertakings, Mr. Haley was active in charity organizations, and in the American Guild of Variety Artists, which he once headed. He was also once head of the Friars Club.
Mr. Haley is survived by his wife; a daughter, Gloria Parnassuss; his son, who was formerly married to Liza Minnelli, a daughter of Judy Garland; two grandchildren and a great©\grandchild.
Services are scheduled for 11 A.M. next Monday at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills.
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