Jack Haley was an American actor notable for his role as the Tin Man in the film adaptation of the fantasy novel The Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum. Aside from being a comedian and actor, Haley was also a vaudevillian, radio host, dancer, and singer.
Early Life and Career
On August 10, 1898, John Joseph Haley Jr. was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the youngest among the two sons of John Joseph Haley Sr. and Ellen Curley Haley. Six months after his birth, his father died at the wreck of the Charles A. Briggs schooner at Nahant in Massachusetts. Following that, in 1916, his older brother and musician, Bill Haley, died of pneumonia at the age of twenty-one.
Despite those events in his life, Haley then decided to take his path as a Vaudevillian. Early in the 1930s,Haley had taken a role in the comedy shorts in Brooklyn for the sound film system, Vitaphone. Because of his good-natured expression, he had been offered several supporting roles in musical films alongside big stars like Frank Sinatra, Shirley Temple, and Irving Berlin. His earlier supporting roles were in films including Higher and Higher, Poor Little Rich Girl, and Alexander’s Ragtime Band. In addition, since Haley was under the Twentieth-Century Fox contract, he appeared in Fox’s Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, as well as in Pigskin Parade. The latter musical comedy was his first film appearance with the actress, Judy Garland.
Following that, Haley also became a radio host in the show known to many as The Jack Haley Show that runs from 1937 to 1939. The show has two seasons, which were sponsored by two different brands. From 1937 to 1938, the first season was funded by Log Cabin Syrup. Thus the show was named The Log Cabin Jamboree. In the following season that runs 1938 to 1939, the show was sponsored by Wonder Bread. Consequently, the show’s name was known as The Wonder Show, which featured regular radio performers like Gale Gordon and Lucille Ball.
In the 1940s, Jack Haley was seen again in musical comedies, mostly for RKO Radio Pictures. However, in 1947, he left the studio and went into real estate instead. During this time and for the next couple of years, he still continued to take guest roles in some TV series.
Jack Haley in The Wizard of Oz
After the original cast of Tin Man died, MGM then hired Jack Haley. According to the news, the former Tin Man, Buddy Ebsen, died from inhaling an aluminum powder that comes from his silver make-up. Following the incident, when Haley played for the role, the dust used for make-up was then converted into a paste.
However, the paste used had caused an infection in Haley’s eyes. With this, he was sidelined for four shooting days. Nevertheless, because of surgical treatment, serious damage was prevented. Aside from playing the role of Tin Man, Haley also portrayed the role of Tin Man’s counterpart, HickoryTwicker. Other than The Wizard of Oz, Haley also worked for MGM’s Pick a Star in 1937.
Life behind the Screen
As a young child, Haley was raised as a Roman Catholic. During his years, he was a member of the Catholic Motion and the Good Shepherd Parish in California.
In February 1921, Haley married Florence McFadden. According to Haley, he met McFadden casually, and since then, they were inseparable. In fact, they remained married until his death. Throughout their years together, the two opened a beauty shop in which several film personalities have become their client.
Haley and McFadden also had two children. Their son was named Jack Haley Jr., who later became a film producer, and a daughter named Gloria. Subsequently, Haley’s son married Liza Minelli, the daughter of Judy Garland. However, the marriage soon ended and followed by a divorce in 1979.
Later Years and Death
In 1977, Haley had his last film appearance in the musical drama film, New York, New York. In there, he played the role of the host who introduced a top Broadway star who was portrayed by his daughter-in-law, Liza Minnelli. Years later, in 1979, Haley appeared with Ray Bolger at the 51st Academy Awards ceremony. In there, Boger announced the nominees while Haley announced the winners.
On June 1, 1979, Jack Haley suffered from a heart attack and died five days later, at the age of 80. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in California.