Edit
Will Hay Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (52)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (5)

Born in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, England, UK
Died in Chelsea, London, England, UK  (aftermath of strokes)
Birth NameWilliam Thomson Hay
Nickname Bill
Height 5' 9½" (1.77 m)

Mini Bio (1)

William Thompson Hay was probably one of the most versatile of entertainers. He was not only a character comedian of the first rank, but was also an astronomer of high repute - he discovered the spot on the planet Saturn in 1933 - and a fully qualified air pilot; he was once an engineer. Born in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham in 1888, he became interested in astronomy at school and carried on his research work in this direction after he had finished his nightly stage entertainments. He was first "on the air" in 1922 and his then comedy sketches of "St. Michaels School" (of which he was the headmaster) proved to be one of the most popular comedy characters on radio at that time. This character was transferred to film and became equally successful. He worked at Elstree Studios, then Gainsborough, then Ealing; the Gainsborough period was the most consistently successfully, particularly when he worked with the team of Marcel Varnel (director), Val Guest and Marriott Edgar (writers), and Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt (supporting cast). By the time he made his first film, he was in his mid forties and his last role came less than a decade later. Between 1934 and 1943, he was a prolific and popular film comedian. He was credited on several films as a writer or co-ordinator, and was arguably the dominant 'author' of all the films in which he appeared, in that they were built around his persona and depended on the character and routines he had developed over years on the stage.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: <ian@mahsud.powernet.co.uk>

Spouse (1)

Gladys Perkins (7 October 1907 - 18 April 1949) ( his death) ( 3 children)

Trade Mark (4)

Often played incompetent authority figures, most notably in his famous Schoolmaster routines.
Distinctive raspy voice
His partnership with Graham Moffatt and Moore Marriott
His partnership with Gainsborough pictures from 1935 until 1939

Trivia (52)

In 1918 he joined the Fred Karno comedy troupe. Will Hay played Nosey Parker in the Karno revue Nosey Knows which toured Britain until the end of 1918. Will Hay then starred in the Karno revue Moonstruck which toured Britian from December 1918 to March 1920.Other former members of the Karno troupe include Stan Laurel and Charles Chaplin, both of whom left the company in 1913.
Will and his wife Gladys separated in 1935 after 28 years of marriage, but never divorced because she was a Roman Catholic. Gladys died in 1982, having outlived Will and two of their three children.
In 1942 he became a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), Special Branch, as an instructor on navigation and astronomy to the Sea Cadets Corps. He was awarded a star for his work. He also made the short Go to Blazes (1942) in which he showed how to deal with incendiary bombs.
Buried in Artists Corner of Streatham Cemetery, South London, amongst hundreds of music hall stars.
Off stage he had a great interest in flying and was one of the first private aircraft owners in the United Kingdom.
He kept a launch on Oslo Fjord in Norway.
His love of astronomy since boyhood led to his discovery on August 3rd 1933 of a spot on Saturn which attracted widespread attention at the time. He was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and a member of the British Astronomy Association. An old friend, Dr. W.H. Steavenson represented the RAS at his funeral.
Father of Gladys Hay (1909-1979), Will Hay Jr. (1913-1995) and Joan Hay (1917-1975).
He left £27,100 in his will.
Was hoping to work once again with French director Marcel Varnel. Unfortunately, the director was killed in a car crash and Will Hay lost interest in making a comeback in films.
Even though he achieved his greatest successes when teamed with Moore Marriott and Graham Moffat, Will Hay soon began to tire of working with his two co-stars. He was becoming concerned about being associated as part of a comedy team.
Has now become recognized as being one of the funniest British comedians in history, as well as the funniest of his time.
According to surviving newspaper articles, Will Hay made it a rule never to discuss comedy or his acting career when being at home.
Was an accomplished musician, as well as being a songwriter. Both talents were put to good use during the early days of Hay's career.
Suffered a stroke which left him bedridden until the time of his death.
During the comedian's time at "Gainsborough Pictures," Will Hay wore a bald wig to achieve comic effect. Whilst with "Ealing" studios, he showed off his full head of hair.
It came as quite a shock when Will Hay announced that he didn't want to make any more films with Moore Marriott and Graham Moffat.
Usually cast as the hopelessly incompetent character, who bluffs and blusters his way into finding a job in which he has no qualifications or formal training.
He received on-screen credit as "co-director" on a couple of his "Ealing" comedies.
Wasn't known for having much of a sense of humor when not acting.
In 1933, Will Hay was interviewed at his home, where he talked about the discovery he had made regarding the planet Saturn. The comedian confessed his surprise at all the interest this had garnered.
Allegedly, the comedian was passed over for a knighthood due to his having affairs whilst married to a devout Catholic.
During his early days as a comedian, Will Hay was a member of Fred Karno's troupe for a time.
Became credited as "co-director" on a few of his "Ealing" comedies.
Became an influence on such comedians as Ken Dodd and Eric Morecambe.
Began playing his bumbling, seedy schoolmaster character on stage in the late 1920s. Much later on, Will Hay would reprise the role for a radio series.
Became a success on the stage when playing his incompetent schoolmaster character in the late 1920s.
Had his own private observatory in the grounds of his North London Home.
In 1942 joined the R.N.V.R.'s special branch as a sub lieutenant to instruct sea cadets in navigation and astronomy.
Published a book on astronomy. which was used officially by the Home Guard.
During his childhood, Will Hay's father worked a variety of jobs. Being largely unsuccessful, this meant young Hay and his family kept changing address.
Made a propaganda short film "Go to Blazes," during the second world war.
Had a disagreement with the BBC over his comedy show, leading to a falling out.
Made his radio debut in 1922, performing some of the characters from his stage career.
The British TV channel "Talking Pictures," has broadcast several Will Hay films. However, one comedy that isn't shown is "Old Bones of the River" in light of its racial content.
Watching W.C Fields on stage during a British tour, convinced the young Will Hay to enter show business.
As a child, Hay described himself as a bit of a rogue by indulging in acts of mischief.
His interest in music came from his father, although young Will disliked being part of a choir at home.
Moved away from his place of birth at a very young age and never returned.
Claimed to have discovered his passion for astronomy whilst witnessing a shooting star one night during a long journey home.
His adult life was blighted by periods of poor physical health.
Was a keen boxing enthusiast, meeting heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey at one point.
Both his parents and in-laws reacted with disappointment, upon learning Will Hay was becoming a music hall comedian.
Was fluent in several languages, including French, Italian and Cantonese.
Interviews with the comedian are rare, except for an interview that was shown at cinemas in 1933.
Unlike his on-screen character from his "Gainsborough" films, Will Hay had a full crop of hair in real life and didn't wear glasses.
Apart from his other interests, the comedian was a qualified airplane pilot.
Between films, the comedian enjoyed taking a cruise round the Mediterranean.
His one time, frequent comedy stooge Moore Marriott died only months after Will Hay.
For his films at "Ealing," the comedian made a few changes to the way he worked. Apart from working with a different supporting cast, Will Hay discarded the bald wig he had worn from before.
During his early days as a music hall comedian, Hay would often assist with various jobs behind-the-scenes. These included the moving of scenery, minor repairs, decorating etc.
Began writing his autobiography, entitled "I Enjoyed Every Minute of It." The book wasn't completed.

Personal Quotes (1)

If we were all astronomers, there'd be no more war.

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page


Recently Viewed