The Story of Toy Village

Julie Haydon with music by Al Rickey

Willida WR-7

Total Time: 6:23

Julie Haydon (June 10, 1910 – December 24, 1994) was an American actress who performed on Broadway and in films.

Born Donella Donaldson in Oak Park, Illinois, Haydon began her acting career when she was 19, touring with Minnie Maddern Fiske in Mrs. Bumstead Leigh. Within two years, she played Ophelia in a production of Hamlet at the Hollywood Playhouse. Shortly after, she began appearing in films, in 1931. Her first film, in which she was billed under her birth name, was The Great Meadow, a Johnny Mack Brown Western drama made by MGM. In 1932, she signed with RKO, and her first major role came that year in The Conquerors, directed by William Wellman Her most notable performance came in 1935’s The Scoundrel playing opposite Noël Coward, but, despite a new contract with MGM, only a few more films were to come in her short career, including A Family Affair (1937), the initial movie in the Andy Hardy series.

Haydon retired from films in 1937.

Haydon debuted on Broadway in 1935[6] in Bright Star by Philip Barry, which ran for only seven performances before closing. Her next Broadway production, Shadow and Substance by Paul Vincent Carroll, in which she played a saintly maid, was more successful, running for 9 months in 1938. Next, in 1939, she created the role of the prostitute, Kitty Duval, in William Saroyan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Time of Your Life. Haydon was also the original Laura Wingfield in the first production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie in 1945. Her final appearance on Broadway came in 1947’s Our Lan’.

Beginning in 1949, Haydon began making appearances on television. She performed in episodes of Kraft Television Theater (1949), Armstrong Circle Theater (1950), The United States Steel Hour (1954), and Robert Montgomery Presents (1954).

In 1955, Haydon married the drama critic George Jean Nathan, who died in 1958. They had no children and she never remarried. Following his death Haydon worked as a drama coach, and appeared onstage in community theater and college productions. She delivered lectures taken from books written by Nathan, two collections of which Haydon edited. She also wrote occasional magazine articles about the actors she had worked with in her career.

Haydon recorded two albums for Folkways Records in the early 1960s, George Jean Nathan’s The New American Credo (1962) and Colette’s Music Hall (L’Envers du Music-Hall): By Colette (1963).

In 1962 the actress left New York and returned to the Midwest. For a decade she was actress in residence at the College of St. Teresa in Winona, Minnesota. She played the role of the mother in revivals of The Glass Menagerie, and, in 1980, returned to New York to perform the role off-off-Broadway.

Julie Haydon died in La Crosse, Wisconsin of cancer, aged 84. She was buried next to her husband in the Cemetery of the Gate of Heaven in Hawthorne, New York.

The Nathan-Haydon papers were donated to the La Crosse Public Library archives.


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