Helen Hayes was an actress whose successful and award-winning career spanned almost 70 years. She was eventually to garner the nickname "First Lady of the American Theater," having appeared in over 80 Broadway productions.
Born Helen Hayes Brown in Washington, DC, she began a stage career at an early age. By 10, she had made a short film called Jean and the Calico Doll, but she only moved to Hollywood when her husband, playwright Charles MacArthur, signed a Hollywood deal. Her sound film debut was The Sin of Madelon Claudet, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. She followed that with starring roles in Arrowsmith, A Farewell to Arms, The White Sister, What Every Woman Knows and Vanessa: Her Love Story. But she never became a fan favorite.
Hayes and MacArthur eventually returned to Broadway, and she starred for three years in Virginia Regina. Eventually, a theater was named in her honor. She returned to Hollywood in the 1950s, and her film star began to rise. She starred in My Son John and Anastasia, and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1970 for Airport. She followed that up with several roles in Disney films such as Herbie Rides Again, One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing and Candleshoe.
Hayes wrote three memoirs: A Gift of Joy, On Reflection and My Life in Three Acts.
Hayes was the first woman to ever receive a Tony award. She was the first person ever to win a Grammy, an Oscar, a Tony, and an Emmy in competitive categories. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6220 Hollywood Blvd.
The Helen Hayes Award for theater in the Washington D.C. area is named in her honor.
Hayes was married to MacArthur from 1928 until his death in 1956. Their son, James MacArthur, whom she adopted, is an actor. Their daughter,stage actress Mary MacArthurdied of polioin 1949 at the age of nineteen.
Helen Hayes died on March 17, 1993 and was interred in the Oak Hill Cemetery, Nyack, New York.