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March 14, 2022

Helen Hayes: The First Lady of American Theatre

Born 1900 in Washington, D.C., American actress Helen Hayes whose career spanned 80 years. She was one of 16 people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award (an EGOT). She was also the first person to win the Triple Crown of Acting; as of December 2020, the only other person to have accomplished both is Rita Moreno. Hayes also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, from President Ronald Reagan in 1986. In 1988, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

The annual Helen Hayes Awards, which have recognized excellence in professional theatre in greater Washington, DC, since 1984, are her namesake. In 1955, the former Fulton Theatre on 46th Street in New York City’s Theater District was renamed the Helen Hayes Theatre. When that venue was torn down in 1982, the nearby Little Theatre was renamed in her honor. Helen Hayes is regarded as one of the greatest leading ladies of the 20th-century theatre.

Hayes eventually received the nickname “First Lady of American Theatre”. She died in 1993 of congestive heart failure in Nyack, New York. In 2011, she was honored with a US postage stamp. Take a look at these fabulous photos to see the beauty of young Helen Hayes in the 1920s and 1930s.


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