Will Hay

Active - 1934 - 1977  |   Born - Jan 1, 1888   |   Died - Apr 18, 1949   |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

With his supercilious sniff, ill-fitting pince-nez and overall air of pompous ineptitude, Will Hay was one of the great British character comedians of his time. A former bookkeeper, Hay began his music-hall career in 1909, performing a sketch in which he impersonated a seedy, incompetent schoolmaster. He would continue to play this character, or variations thereof, for the rest of his professional life; his familiar catchphrase "Good Morning, Boys" served as the title of Ray Seaton and Roy Martin's 1978 biography of Hay. In films from 1934, Hay generally shared the screen with his two favorite foils, rotund Graham Moffatt and toothless Moore Marriott. His best film was Oh, Mr. Porter (1937), in which he played a bumbling stationmaster who manages to round up a nest of smugglers. Hay collaborated on the screenplays of most of his films, and co-directed his last two efforts, The Goose Steps Out (1942) and My Learned Friend (1943). These final films weren't quite as successful as Hay's earlier vehicles, possibly because of his ill-advised decision to divest himself of stooges Moffatt and Marriot. When he wasn't convulsing audiences, Will Hay was a serious student of astronomy; in 1935 he published a book on the subject, Through My Telescope.

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