The great William Thomson “Will” Hay was a famed comic screen actor of 1930s and 40s
As a child, he lived in several locations throughout Britain
as his father sought work, but was actually born in England Stockton-on-Tees to parents
William and Elizabeth in December 1888.
Will began his adult life as an engineer in
Salford, but decided to become an actor in his early 20s, spending many
years as a music hall performer – including some time in Fred Karno’s famous
comedy troupe. After a long and successful stage career, he broke into film in
his mid-40s and spent a short but highly successful few years in the business
(1934-1943), before moving (very briefly) into radio. His film portrayals saw
him play bumbling authority-figure characters – among them lead roles in Boys
Will be Boys, Oh, Mr Porter!, The Ghost of St.Michael’s (above), and My Learned Friend.
He wrote much of his own material, and was also, interestingly, a highly-respected amateur astronomer (and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, no less). Furthermore, he was one of
first private pilots (he gave lessons to Amy Johnson) and spoke several
languages proficiently. He was married – and fathered three children – before
separating from his wife, Gladys. Sadly, he spent the last two years of his
life disabled following a stroke in 1947. Britain
Will Hay died in 1949, aged just 60, and was buried in
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