Hayes, Helen, 1900–1993, American actress, b. Washington, D.C., as Helen Hayes Brown. She made her New York stage debut at the age of nine. Performances in Caesar and Cleopatra (1925), and Mary of Scotland (1933) brought her fame; her portrayal (1935–39) of the title role in Laurence Housman's Victoria Regina established her as an actress of the first rank. Later stage triumphs include The Show-Off (1967) and Harvey (1970). She was active also in films, winning Academy Awards for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1932) and Airport (1969).
See her memoirs Gift of Joy (1965; with L. Funke), On Reflection (1968; with S. Dody), Twice Over Lightly (1972; with A. Loos), and My Life in Three Acts (1990; with K. Hatch); biography by her mother, Catherine Hayes Brown (1940).
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Hayes, Helen (b. Brown)(1900–93) stage/film actress; born in Washington, D.C. Best known in roles that combined apparent pliability with inner steel, she made her debut at the age of five. In the 1920s she seemed to be type-cast as a flapper, but she soon graduated to more substantial roles such as Cleopatra in Caesar and Cleopatra. In 1928 she married playwright Charles MacArthur. She won an Academy Award for the 1932 film, The Sin of Madelon Claudet, but her most famous role was in Laurence Housman's Victoria Regina (1935), where she played the queen as she aged from a young woman to an elderly widow. Her longest New York run was Happy Birthday (1946). After 1958 she performed mainly in revivals in the U.S. and Europe. In 1964 she formed the Helen Hayes Repertory Company to sponsor Shakespeare readings in universities. She officially retired from the stage in 1970 after playing Veta Louise Simmons in Harvey.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.