Richard Haydn

Richard Haydn (born George Richard Haydon, 10 March 1905 – 25 April 1985) was an English comic actor in radio, films and television. Some of his better known performances include his roles as Professor Oddley in Ball of Fire (1941), Roger in No Time for Love (1943), Thomas Rogers in And Then There Were None (1945), Emperor Franz Joseph in The Emperor Waltz (1948), the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland (1951), Baron Popoff in The Merry Widow (1952), William Brown in Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), and Max Detweiler in The Sound of Music (1965).[1]

Richard Haydn
Richard Haydn, 1945
George Richard Haydon

(1905-03-10)10 March 1905
Camberwell, London, England
Died25 April 1985(1985-04-25) (aged 80)
Years active1938–1985


Haydn was born on 10 March 1905 in Camberwell, London. After working as a music hall entertainer and overseer of a Jamaican banana plantation, he joined a touring British theatre troupe,[1] and then moved into television and film.

Haydn never married or had children, although he was engaged to the actress Maria Riva for several months in 1943. In the DVD commentary of Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks said that Haydn eschewed the Hollywood lifestyle, and that he used gardening and horticulture as a means of escape.

Following a heart attack, Haydn died on 25 April 1985, aged 80. His body was found in his home in Pacific Palisades, California,[2] and was donated to the University of California, Los Angeles.[3]

Television and film

Haydn was known for playing eccentric characters, such as Edwin Carp, Claud Curdle (Mr. Music, 1950), Richard Rancyd (Miss Tatlock's Millions, 1948) and Stanley Stayle (Dear Wife, 1949). Much of his stage delivery was done in a deliberate over-nasalized and over-enunciated manner.

He is particularly notable for his performance as the voice of the Caterpillar in the 1951 Disney animated adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, and for his small role of Herr Falkstein in the 1974 Mel Brooks classic comedy Young Frankenstein. Haydn was also memorable as the manservant Rogers in the 1945 adaptation of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. He is also well remembered for his role as William Brown in the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty. Perhaps his most acclaimed role was in Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1965 film musical The Sound of Music, in which he played the Von Trapps' family friend Max Detweiler.

Haydn performed as the nosy neighbour and gossip in Sitting Pretty with Clifton Webb and Maureen O'Hara in 1948, using his over-nasal voice. He was Prof. Summerlee in 1960's The Lost World, and in the same year played opposite Doris Day in Please Don't Eat the Daisies.

In the 1960 The Twilight Zone episode "A Thing About Machines", he portrayed Mr. Bartlett Finchley, a quirky, self-absorbed, technophobe who is confronted by every machine in his home. On 1 April 1964, he played Edwin Carp, a poet and an expert on fish, in an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show which saluted several old-time radio performers.

On 11 April 1968 he appeared as a Japanese businessman on the episode of Bewitched entitled "A Majority of Two". On 23 February 1969, he played the Magician who had twin daughters on the episode of Bonanza entitled "The Lady and the Mountain Lion" (S10/Ep21). On 12 January 1973 he appeared as Edward the butler in season 4 episode 15 of Love American Style entitled "Love and the Impossible Gift".

Other work

Haydn had a brief spell as a film director starting in the late 1940s. He directed:

On radio, Haydn played Edwin Carp on The Charlie McCarthy Show,[4] and he was a regular on The Swan Soap Show, which featured George Burns and Gracie Allen.[4]:323 Haydn authored one book, The Journal of Edwin Carp, in 1954.

He debuted on Broadway in 1939 in Set to Music and subsequently appeared in Two for the Show (1940).[5]

Partial filmography


  1. Eder, Bruce. "Richard Haydn: Full Biography". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  2. "Body of Actor Richard Haydn Found in His Palisades Home". Los Angeles Times. 26 April 1985. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  3. Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 326. ISBN 9781476625997. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  4. Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
  5. "Richard Haydn". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
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