Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Entertainer Mary Healy (1918-2015)
Actress and entertainer Mary Healy died on February 3rd, at 96. She and her late husband, Peter Lind Hayes, were a popular performing team--which included working in early television (and beyond).
(The photograph, above, is from a magazine story about Inside USA with Chevrolet, either from 1949 or 1950, and features, left-to-right, Mary Healy, Peter Lind Hayes, guest star David Niven, and Mary Wickes. I got the article on ebay, some time ago--simply the article, not the full magazine--and do not know what magazine the story was from; I also do not know who took the photograph.)
Peter Lind Hayes starred, and Mary Healy co-starred, on the CBS-TV variety program Inside USA with Chevrolet, in 1949 and 1950. In 1951 and 1952, they starred together on the CBS comedy/interview/variety program Star of the Family. From 1950-1951, Ms. Healy joined her husband on The Peter Lind Hayes Show, an NBC situation comedy, and in 1960 and 1961 they starred in the NBC show Peter Loves Mary, also a situation comedy. Mr. Hayes died in 1998, at age 82.
There are a handful of people I regret not interviewing, for my book about early television. Two of them were the talented and likeable Mr. Hayes and Ms. Healy.
My mother was involved, briefly, with one of their shows (Inside USA with Chevrolet), and later made a guest appearance on another (Star of the Family).
I would like to have spoken with them in particular about Inside USA. The show, which featured music, comedy, and dance, was a travelogue program, of sorts, about America, and aired every other week. In addition to Mr. Hayes and Ms. Healy, the program featured actress Mary Wickes, and dancers Sheila Bond and Danny Daniels. Guest stars on the show included Lucille Ball, Oscar Levant and David Niven, and the show's producer was the prominent songwriter Arthur Schwartz; with lyricist Howard Dietz, he composed such songs as "Dancing in the Dark," and "That's Entertainment." Mr. Schwartz had also been the producer of the 1948-1949 Broadway musical revue Inside USA, which had been derived from the John Gunther book of the same name.
The television show went on the air in September of 1949; my mother became a part of the show not long afterwards. She sang with the show's vocal group, overseen by vocal arranger and singer Ray Charles (often called the other Ray Charles). The Ray Charles Singers were featured in production numbers on the show, and sang the program's Chevrolet jingle, "See The USA in Your Chevrolet."
My mother left the program at the end of November, that year, to become one of the featured singers on bandleader Kay Kyser's new TV show on NBC.
In 1952 she appeared as a guest on the Hayes and Healy show Star of the Family. This was a couple of days before her last appearance on Your Hit Parade. Star of the Family featured not only entertainers, but members of their families, who were interviewed. My father appeared on the show, and spoke with Mary Healy about my mother's career. The other guest entertainers on the episode (which was, as it happens, the last broadcast of the series) were comedian Jack E. Leonard, and singer Bill Kenny, of The Ink Spots.
Here is the amazon link to a book by Mr. Hayes and Ms. Healy, about their show business careers; it was brought out in 2004.