Helen Hayes

First Lady of Theater

Actress Helen Hayes.

Dubbed the “First Lady of the Theater,” Helen Hayes charmed audiences for 75 years, appearing in such theatrical productions as What Every Woman Knows, Victoria Regina, and The Glass Menagerie. In Hollywood she won Oscars for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931) and Airport (1970).


On her stardom: My very lack of glamour has kept me a star.

To a reporter upon leaving Hollywood to return to Broadway: I don’t think I’m much good in pictures, and I have a beautiful dream that I’m elegant on stage.

On being Irish-American: I was not raised as an Irish person but I have Ireland in my blood, and every exciting actor or actress that I’ve known has an Irish background. It’s a strange thing, but we are performers, we are actors by heritage.

On the Irish: Every time I’ve been to Ireland I’ve been aware that they just love to perform. It has nothing to do with acting, they just love to perform. Last year, Eileen Dowd, my housekeeper, said, “I want to show you my Ireland.” And I thought, Why not? and went with her to “her” Ireland. Lo and behold, they put on a show for me [in Roscommon] with a piper and a couple of dancers.
– November 1990


Helen Hayes died on March 17, 1993.

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