Jack Haley

John Joseph Haley Jr. (August 10, 1898 – June 6, 1979) was an American vaudevillian, actor, comedian, radio host, singer and dancer, best known for his portrayal of the Tin Man and his farmhand counterpart "Hickory" in the classic 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz.

Jack Haley
Haley in Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938)
John Joseph Haley Jr.

(1898-08-10)August 10, 1898[1]
DiedJune 6, 1979(1979-06-06) (aged 80)
Years active1924–1977
Known forThe Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Florence McFadden (m. 1921)
Children2, including Jack Haley Jr.

Early life

Haley was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Canadian-born parents John Joseph Haley Sr. and Ellen Curley Haley. His father was a sailor by trade and died in a ship wreck off the coast of Nova Scotia on February 1, 1898, six months before Jack was born.[3] He had one older brother, Bill, who died of pneumonia in 1915 at the age of 20 after contracting tuberculosis.[4]


Haley headlined in vaudeville as a song-and-dance comedian. One of his closest friends was Fred Allen, who would frequently mention "Mr. Jacob Haley of Newton Highlands, Massachusetts" on the air. In the early 1930s, Haley starred in comedy shorts for Vitaphone in Brooklyn, New York. His wide-eyed, good-natured expression gained him supporting roles in musical feature films, including Poor Little Rich Girl with Shirley Temple, Higher and Higher with Frank Sinatra and the Irving Berlin musical Alexander's Ragtime Band. Both Poor Little Rich Girl and Alexander's Ragtime Band were released by Twentieth Century-Fox. Haley was under contract to them and appeared in the Fox films Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Pigskin Parade, marking his first appearance with Judy Garland. Haley hosted a radio show from 1937 to 1939 known to many as The Jack Haley Show. The first season (1937-1938), the show was sponsored by Log Cabin Syrup and was known as The Log Cabin Jamboree. The next season (1938-1939), the show was sponsored by Wonder Bread and was known as The Wonder Show. During the second season the show featured Gale Gordon and Lucille Ball as regular radio performers.[5]

Haley returned to musical comedies in the 1940s. Most of his '40s work was for RKO Radio Pictures. He left the studio in 1947 when he refused to appear in a remake of RKO's Seven Keys to Baldpate. Phillip Terry took the role. He subsequently went into real estate, taking guest roles in television series over the next couple of decades.

"The Tin Man" in The Wizard of Oz

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer hired Haley for the part of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz after its contracted song-and-dance comedian Buddy Ebsen suffered a near-fatal allergic reaction after inhaling aluminum dust from his silver face makeup; the dust settled in Ebsen's lungs and, within a few days of principal photographic testing, he found himself struggling to breathe. For Haley, to avoid the same catastrophe, the dust was converted into a paste—even so, the paste caused an eye infection that sidelined Haley for four shooting days. Surgical treatment averted serious or permanent damage to Haley's eyes.[6] Haley also portrayed the Tin Man's Kansas counterpart, Hickory, one of Aunt Em and Uncle Henry's farmhands.

Haley did not remember the makeup or the costume fondly. Interviewed about the film years later by Tom Snyder, he related that many fans assumed making the film was a fun experience. Haley said, "Like hell it was. It was work!" For his role as the Tin Woodman, Haley spoke in the same soft tone he used when reading bedtime stories to his children. Oz was one of only two films Haley made for MGM. The other was Pick a Star, a 1937 Hal Roach production distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Personal life

Haley was raised Roman Catholic.[7] He was a member of the Good Shepherd Parish and the Catholic Motion Picture Guild in Beverly Hills, California.[8] He married Florence McFadden (1902–1996), a native of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania on February 25, 1921; "I met her casually" Jack recalled. "As show people often do, and we became inseparable." They remained married until his death. Flo Haley opened a successful beauty shop and had many film personalities among her clients. The couple had a son, Jack Haley Jr. (1933–2001), who became a successful film producer, and a daughter, Gloria (1923–2010).[1] In 1974, the younger Haley married entertainer Liza Minnelli, the daughter of his father's Oz co-star Judy Garland. The marriage ended in divorce in 1979. Jack Haley Jr. died on April 21, 2001. Gloria Haley-Parnassus died on May 1, 2010. His nephew Bob Dornan served as a Republican congressman for California.

Final years and death

Haley's last film appearance was in 1977's New York, New York—in the lavish "Happy Endings" musical number, he played a host who introduces a top Broadway star at an award ceremony, played by his then-daughter-in-law, Liza Minnelli. On April 9, 1979, he appeared at the 51st Academy Awards ceremony with his Oz co-star Ray Bolger to present the award for Best Costume Design. Bolger announced the nominees, Haley the winner. Before he could open the envelope, Bolger asked, "How come you get to read the winner?", to which Haley replied, "When your son produces the show, you can announce the winner." Jack Jr. was the show's producer that year. Haley remained active until a week before his death.

On June 6, 1979, Haley died of a heart attack at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 80.[9] He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.[1]

Haley's autobiography, Heart of the Tin Man, was published in 2000.


Year Title Role Director/Studio Notes
1927 Broadway Madness Radio Announcer Burton L. King
Excellent Pictures
Film debut
1930 Follow Thru Jack Martin Lloyd Corrigan and
Laurence Schwab
Performer: Button Up Your Overcoat
1933 Mr. BroadwayJack HaleyJohnnie Walker and
Edgar G. Ulmer
Broadway-Hollywood Productions
Pete Pendleton Harry Joe Brown
Performer: You're Such a Comfort to Me; I Wanna Meander with Miranda and Good Morning Glory
1934 Here Comes the Groom Mike Scanlon Edward Sedgwick
1935Spring TonicSykesClyde Bruckman
Fox Film Corporation
Redheads on ParadePeter MathewsNorman Z. McLeod
Fox Film Corporation
The Girl FriendHenry H. HenryEdward Buzzell
Columbia Pictures
Performer: What is This Power and Two Together
CoronadoChuck HornbostelNorman Z. McLeod
Performer: All's Well in Coronado by the Sea and Keep Your Fingers Crossed
1936F-ManJohnny DimeEdward F. Cline
Poor Little Rich GirlJimmy DolanIrving Cummings
20th Century Fox
Performer: You've got to Eat your Spinach Baby and Military Man
Mr. CinderellaJoe Jenkins/
Aloysius P. Merriweather
Edward Sedgwick
Pigskin ParadeWinston 'Slug' WintersDavid Butler
20th Century Fox
Performer: You Do the Darndest Things Baby and The Balboa
1937Pick a StarJoe JenkinsEdward Sedgwick
Performer: Pick A Star and I've Got It Bad
She Had to EatDanny DeckerMalcolm St. Clair
20th Century Fox
Wake Up and LiveEddie KaneSidney Lanfield
20th Century Fox
Danger – Love at WorkHenry MacMorrowOtto Preminger
20th Century Fox
Performer: Danger Love at Work
Ali Baba Goes to TownHimself - CameoDavid Butler
20th Century Fox
1938Rebecca of Sunnybrook FarmOrville SmithersAllan Dwan
20th Century Fox
Performer: Alone With You
Alexander's Ragtime BandDavey LaneHenry King
20th Century Fox
Performer: Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning; That International Rag and
In My Harem (DVD extra only)
Hold That Co-edWilber PetersGeorge Marshall
20th Century Fox
Thanks for EverythingHenry SmithWilliam A. Seiter
20th Century Fox
1939 The Wizard of Oz The Tin Man / Hickory Victor Fleming
(writer, uncredited)
Performer: If I Only Had a Heart and The Merry Old Land of Oz
1941Moon Over MiamiJack O'HaraWalter Lang
20th Century Fox
Performer: Is That Good?
Navy Blues'Powerhouse' BoltonLloyd Bacon
Warner Bros.
Performer: When are we Going to Land Abroad
1942 Beyond the Blue Horizon Squidge Sullivan Alfred Santell
1944Higher and HigherMike O'BrienTim Whelan
RKO Pictures
Performer: Today I'm a Debutante and The Music Stopped
Take It BigJack NorthFrank McDonald
Performer: Take It Big
One Body Too ManyAlbert TuttleFrank McDonald
1945Scared StiffLarry ElliotFrank McDonald
George White's ScandalsJack EvansFelix E. Feist
RKO Pictures
Sing Your Way Home Steve Kimball Anthony Mann
RKO Pictures
1946People Are FunnyPinky WilsonSam White
Performer: Hey Jose
Vacation in RenoJack CarollLeslie Goodwins
RKO Pictures
Last major film before retirement from motion pictures
1970 Norwood Mr. Reese Jack Haley, Jr.
Directed by his son producer/director Jack Haley Jr.
1977 New York, New York Master of Ceremonies Martin Scorsese
United Artists
This film marked Jack Haley's final screen appearance.
Uncredited, (final film role)

Short films

Year Movie title Role Notes
1928 Haleyisms Jack Haley Also stars his wife Flo McFadden; Vitaphone production reel #2269
1930The 20th AmendmentWallace Moore
SuccessElmerPerformer: "Just a Gigolo"; Vitaphone production reel #1257-1258
1932The Imperfect LoverVitaphone production reel #1324-1325
Absent Minded AbnerAbnerVitaphone production reel #1372-1373
Sherlock's HomeVitaphone production reel #1441-1442
Then Came the Yawn
1933The Build UpVitaphone production reel #1444-1445
WrongorillaElmerVitaphone production reel #1486-1484
Hollywood on Parade No. A-9Himself
An Idle RoomerVitaphone production reel #1531-1532
Nothing but the ToothSmilie JonesPerformer: "Smiles"; Vitaphone production reel #1542-1543
Salt Water DaffyElmer Wagonbottom
1939 Screen Snapshots Series 18, No. 9 Himself Documentary/News Reel
1946Screen Snapshots: The Skolsky PartyHimselfDocumentary/News Reel
Screen Snapshots: Famous Fathers and SonsHimselfDocumentary/News Reel


Title Role Run Theater Notes
Round the Town Jack Haley May 21, 1924 – May 31, 1924 Century Promenade Theatre 15 performances
Gay Paree Jack Haley August 18, 1925 – January 30, 1926 Shubert Theatre 181 performances
Gay Paree Jack Haley November 9, 1926 – April 9, 1927 Winter Garden Theatre 192 performances
Follow Thru Jack Martin January 9, 1929 – December 21, 1929 Chanin's 46th Theatre 401 performances
Sang: Button Up Your Overcoat with Zelma O'Neal
In 1930, he starred in Technicolor's film version
Free For All Steve Potter Jr. September 8, 1931 – September 19, 1931 Manhattan Theatre 15 performances
Take a Chance Jack Stanley November 26, 1932 – July 1, 1933 Apollo Theatre 243 performances
Higher and Higher Zachary Ash April 4, 1940 – June 15, 1940 Shubert Theatre 84 performances
Higher and Higher Zachary Ash August 5, 1940 – August 24, 1940 Shubert Theatre 24 performances
In 1943, he starred with Frank Sinatra in film version
Show Time Jack Haley September 16, 1942 – April 3, 1943 Broadhurst Theatre 342 performances
Inside U.S.A. Jack Haley April 30, 1948 – February 19, 1949 New Century Theatre and
Majestic Theatre
399 performances


  1. "Jack Haley". www.NNDB.com. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  2. "Jack Haley". Social Security Death Index. FamilySearch.org. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  3. http://phw01.newsbank.com/cache/arhb/fullsize/pl_008272014_1253_31760_626.pdf
  4. Haley, Jack (March 1, 2001). Heart of the Tin Man: The Collected Writings of Jack Haley. Seven Locks Press. ISBN 978-0970387202. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  5. Reinehr, Robert; Swartz, Jon (2007). Historical Dictionary of Old Time Radio. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. p. 137. ISBN 978-0810857803.
  6. "Wizard of Oz and Buddy Ebsen". Snopes.com. July 26, 1997. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  7. Thomas, Bob (June 12, 1979). "Jack Haley, Screen's Tin Woodsman, Is Buried". The Lewiston Daily Sun. Associated Press. p. 9. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  8. "Our History". Church of the Good Shepherd. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  9. Smith, J. Y. (June 7, 1979). "Jack Haley Dies, Was Tin Man in 'The Wizard of Oz'". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 31, 2017. Jack Haley, 79, who played the shy and diffident Tin Woodman in the film classic "The Wizard of Oz," died yesterday at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after a heart attack.
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