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Jack Haley

The Tinman, Hickory Twicker

Jack Haley [1899–1979] (Hickory Twicker / The Tinman) starred in films for a decade following "Oz," then moved to television to host "The Ford Star Revue" in 1950 and appear in various ensuing projects. He came out of retirement to participate in the 1979 television documentary "The Making of The Wizard of Oz."

Before "Oz," Haley starred in vaudeville as a song-and-dance comedian. One of his closest friends was fellow vaudeville alumnus 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 landed him supporting roles in musical features like the Shirley Temple vehicle Poor Little Rich Girl, the Frank Sinatra vehicle Higher and Higher, and the Irving Berlin musical Alexander's Ragtime Band.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer hired Haley for The Wizard of Oz after another song-and-dance comic, Buddy Ebsen, who was originally set to play the Tin Man, had a near-fatal reaction from inhaling the aluminum dust makeup. The makeup was switched to a paste, to avoid risking the same reaction by Haley. The new makeup did cause an eye infection which caused Haley to miss four days of filming, but he received treatment in time to prevent permanent damage. Incidentally, Buddy Ebsen, 10 years younger than Haley, outlived him by 24 years.

Haley did not take to the makeup or to the discomfort of the costume very kindly. When being interviewed about the film years later, he remarked that many people had commented that making the film must have been fun. Haley's reply: "Like hell it was; it was work!"

Haley's natural voice (which he used for the "Hickory" character) was moderately gruff. For the Tin Man, he spoke more softly, a la "Mr. Rogers", which he later said was the tone of voice he used when reading stories to his children.
Haley returned to musical comedies in the 1940s. Most of his '40s work was for RKO Radio Pictures. He surrendered the job in 1947 when he refused to appear in a remake of RKO's old story property Seven Keys to Baldpate; Phillip Terry took the role.

He married Florence McFadden on February 25, 1921, and they remained married until his death. Flo Haley opened a successful beauty shop and counted many show people among her customers. (The establishment became known informally as "Flo Haley's House of Correction.") The couple had one son, Jack Haley Jr. (later a successful film producer) and one daughter, Gloria. Jack Jr. was married to Liza Minnelli, daughter of his father's Oz co-star Judy Garland, for a short time in the 1970s.

In 1972, Haley made his daughter, Gloria, the sole owner of his written memoirs. In 1978, she published them in the form of the hardcover book Heart of the Tin Man.

Haley died of a heart attack on June 6, 1979 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 80. He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.