Hyacinth Hazel O'Higgins
4 October 1919^
|Died||10 May 1970 (aged 50)|
|Occupation||Stage and screen actress|
Hyacinth Hazel O'Higgins (4 October 1919 – 10 May 1970), stage name Hy Hazell, was a British actress of theatre, musicals and revue as well as a contralto singer and film actress. Allmusic described her as "an exuberant comic actor and lively singer and dancer". A pretty brunette, with long legs, she was billed as Britain's answer to Betty Grable.
Upon the abbreviation of her name, Getty Images quotes this:-
"The English Actress, Hy Hazell, who has come to Australia to star in "Lock Up Your Daughters", says her name was originally Hyacinth: "It was Nigel Patrick who abbreviated it," she explained. "It was when I was with him in Italy during the war-and the troops used to call" (out).
Early life and theatre career
Born in Streatham in South London on 4 October 1919^ , although the British Film Institute cites 1920 and The Oxford Reference cites 1922). As a teenager, Hy Hazell started life as a performer in the chorus of the West End production of Rodgers and Hart's On Your Toes (1937). She later had a long and successful run of leading roles in musicals, including Expresso Bongo at the Saville Theatre in 1958, as heartless Dixie Collins; as Mrs Squeezum in the Mermaid Theatre's Lock Up Your Daughters in 1959 (playing for almost 2,000 performances); as ex-Cochran girl Kay Connor in Charlie Girl at the Adelphi Theatre from 1965 ; and as Mrs Peachum in a notable Beggar's Opera by the Prospect Theatre Company in 1968.
'Theatricalia.com' lists these appearances:-
Past productions A Talent to Amuse 1969 – 1970, Phoenix Theatre, London. Miss Miniver, Ann Veronica 17th April – May 1969, Cambridge Theatre, London. The Beggar’s Opera 1968 – 1969, Apollo Theatre (Shaftesbury Avenue), London. The Confederacy 19th – 24th October 1964, Cambridge Arts Theatre. Mollie Plummer, No Strings 30th December 1963 – March 1964, Her / His Majesty’s Theatre, London. Dixie Collins, Expresso Bongo started 31st March 1958, Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham and Saville Theatre, London. Esmeralda Leigh, Dead On Nine started 24th August 1955, Westminster Theatre, London. Anne Etherton, Ten Men And A Miss 18th June – 13th October 1951, Aldwych Theatre, London and Opera House, Manchester:(Also, Golders Green Hippodrome London).
She was in British films Meet Me at Dawn (1946), The Yellow Balloon (1953), and B-movies like The Body Said No! and The Lady Craved Excitement (both 1950), the latter part allowing her to sing. Within the British tradition of having glamorous young women play the principal boy in pantos, she became a favourite. She established a reputation as "English pantomime's most distinguished post war principal boy". For years she was extremely popular in this seasonal form of theatre.
Hazell was playing Golde in Fiddler on the Roof in London's West End. On Sunday, 10 May 1970, (when there was no performance), she died accidentally, by choking to death whilst eating a steak at a friend's house. An inquest found that her blood showed a very high alcohol level: "A high enough level to account for some carelessness about eating and possibly the swallowing of food and therefore to have been almost a certain reason for her choking."
- The Dummy Talks (1943) (credited as Derna Hazell)
- Meet Me at Dawn (1947)
- Just William's Luck (1947)
- Paper Orchid (1949)
- Celia (1949)
- The Lady Craved Excitement (1950)
- The Body Said No! (1950)
- The Franchise Affair (1951)
- The Night Won't Talk (1952)
- The Yellow Balloon (1953)
- Forces' Sweetheart (1953)
- Stolen Assignment (1955)
- Up in the World (1956)
- The Mail Van Murder (Scotland Yard film series) (1957)
- The Key Man (1957)
- The Whole Truth (1958)
- Trouble with Eve (1960)
- Five Golden Hours (1961)
- What Every Woman Wants (1962)
- Every Home Should Have One (1970)
- "Hy Hazell". BFI. Archived from the original on 2009-01-15.
- "Hy Hazell Theatre Credits". broadwayworld.com. Retrieved 18 October 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Hy Hazell - Biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 18 October 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Alan Royle (3 June 2015). "Tragic Hollywood: Accidental Death's (Pt 6)". filmstarfacts.com. Retrieved 18 October 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Hy Hazell profile". britmovie.co.uk. Archived from the original on 24 June 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Fiddler on the Roof, thisistheatre.com