Hy Hazell (Hyacinth Hazel O'Higgins)
BiographyLondon, England, UK
Vivacious, uncommonly beautiful Hyacinth Hazel O'Higgins (aka Hazell) was a star entertainer of British revues and musical theatre. Called 'Britain's answer to Betty Grable', she was described as having 'the longest legs in show business'. She was also blessed with an excellent singing voice and seemingly boundless energy. Educated at Streatham and privately tutored for acting, she began her stage career as a teen in a 1937 West End chorus line of "On Your Toes". During the war years, she played her part entertaining British troops, touring the Middle East, Italy and Austria as a member of E.N.S.A.. Read more... the 1950's and 60's, she gave critically acclaimed performances in a wide variety of roles, including "Pygmalion" (1951, as Eliza), "The Beggar's Opera" (as Polly Peachum, 1968) and "Fiddler on the Roof" (as Golde, 1969). She even had her measure of international success with the salacious role of 'Mrs. Squeezum' in the period romp "Lock Up Your Daughters" (1959). She enacted this part in more than 2000 performances in Britain and Australia over a three-year period. Possibly her best character was that of Dixie Collins, an ageing 'has been' movie star in "Expresso Bongo". She played Collins in both the original stage version of Wolf Mankowitz's 1958 play, and in a little seen TV movie made the same year (but not in the cinematic version, in which the role went to Yolande Donlan). Unaccountably, despite her versatility as an entertainer, her looks and effervescent personality, she never rose to any great heights in films. Sadder still, was her untimely death (aged somewhere between 48 and 50, sources vary), choking to death in a restaurant in Westminster, London, on a piece of steak.