Peter Lind Hayes; Early Television Star
Peter Lind Hayes, a versatile entertainer best known for his 1950s and 1960s television series and other appearances with his wife, Mary Healy, died Tuesday. He was 82.
Hayes died at Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas, said Jan Seagrave, who had recently completed work with the couple on their memoirs.
Trained in vaudeville when he appeared with his mother, Grace Hayes, Peter Lind Hayes was a classic variety showman who could sing, dance, tell jokes and graciously host stellar stars such as Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball. He demonstrated all those talents on his own variety show on ABC from 1961 to 1966.
But Hayes and Healy also had memorable situation comedy series on live television in its infancy.
On “The Peter Lind Hayes Show” on NBC in 1950-1951, they portrayed themselves on a set replicating their New Rochelle, N.Y., home. Each episode began with a guest star declining an off-camera dinner invitation by phone because he was due at the Hayes’ house. He then walked onto the set for dinner with Hayes and Healy, entertaining the hosts with his particular talent. The housekeeper in the series was comedian Mary Wickes.
In “Peter Loves Mary,” also on NBC in 1960-1961, Hayes and Healy portrayed a New York show business couple named Peter and Mary Lindsey who had moved with two children to the suburbs. Peter missed Manhattan; his wife relished small-town activities.
Hayes and Healy, who met as contract players in Hollywood film studios, co-starred in the 1953 Dr. Seuss film fantasy “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T,” about an island where kidnapped children were forced to play the piano. They also appeared together on Broadway in “Who Was That Lady I Saw You With?”
Before his television work, Hayes appeared in such motion pictures as “Winged Victory” in 1944 and “The Senator Was Indiscreet” in 1947.
Hayes and Healy were also popular in Las Vegas nightclubs through the 1960s. After their retirement they divided their time between homes there and in New Rochelle. They performed an occasional benefit in Las Vegas, and Hayes quipped that, until cardiovascular problems stopped him, he “lectured to little old ladies with blue hair and sneakers.”
The entertainer recalled in a 1990 interview that of all of his show business experiences, his greatest thrill was writing the successful song “Come to Me” with Johnny Mathis.
As a retiree, Hayes still liked to write, penning what he called a “little column of doggerel” titled “Thoughts While Thinking.”
“I won’t mind when they dump me six feet in the ground,” he once wrote. “What I can’t stand is ‘just hanging around.’ ”
In addition to his wife of 57 years, Hayes is survived by two children, Cathy Lind Hayes of Los Angeles and Peter Michael Hayes of Durham, Conn.