Helen Hayes

Helen Hayes

Helen Hayes (10 October 190017 March 1993) American actress; one of the few people who has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award; born Helen Hayes Brown


  • The truth [is] that there is only one terminal dignity — love. And the story of love is not important — what is important is that one is capable of love. It is perhaps the only glimpse we are permitted of eternity.
    • Guideposts (January 1960)
  • Every human being on this earth is born with a tragedy, and it isn't original sin. He's born with the tragedy that he has to grow up. That he has to leave the nest, the security, and go out to do battle. He has to lose everything that is lovely and fight for a new loveliness of his own making, and it's a tragedy. A lot of people don't have the courage to do it.
    • Showcase (1966) by Roy Newquist,
  • An actress always knows when she’s hit it and mostly you haven’t; but once or twice I think I hit it right, so maybe that’s good enough for one life.
    • The Times (19 December 1984)
  • People who refuse to rest honorably on their laurels when they reach "retirement" age seem very admirable to me.
    • My Life in Three Acts (1990) Ch. 19
  • If you rest, you rust.
    • My Life in Three Acts (1990) Ch. 19
Helen Hayes

On Reflection (1968)Edit

  • Actors cannot choose the manner in which they are born. Consequently, it is the one gesture in their lives completely devoid of self-consciousness.
    • Ch. 1
  • We are indeed a strange lot! There are times we doubt that we have any emotions we can honestly call our own. I have approached every dynamic scene change in my life the same way. When I married Charlie MacArthur, I sat down and wondered how I could play the best wife that ever was.... My love for him was the truest thing in my life; but it was still important that I love him with proper effect, that I act loving him with great style, that I achieve the ultimate in wifedom.
    • Thoughts on actors, Ch. 1
  • The theatre demanded of its members stamina, good digestion, the ability to adjust, and a strong sense of humor. There was no discomfort an actor didn’t learn to endure. To survive, we had to be horses and we were.
    • Ch. 3
  • Actors work and slave—and it is the color of your hair that can determine your fate in the end.
    • Ch. 4
  • The flattering, if arbitrary, label, First Lady of the Theatre, takes its toll. The demands are great, not only in energy but eventually in dramatic focus. It is difficult, if not impossible, for a star to occupy an inch of space without bursting seams, cramping everyone else’s style and unbalancing a play. No matter how self-effacing a famous player may be, he makes an entrance as a casual neighbor and the audience interest shifts to the house next door.
    • Ch. 4
  • The old-fashioned idea that the simple piling up of experiences, one on top of another, can make you an artist, is, of course, so much rubbish. If acting were just a matter of experience, then any busy harlot could make Garbo’s Camille pale.
    • Ch. 6
  • Egocentrics are attracted to the inept. It gives them one more excuse for patting themselves on the back.
    • Ch. 10
  • Marriage is like a war. There are moments of chivalry and gallantry that attend the victorious advances and strategic retreats, the birth or death of children, the momentary conquest of loneliness, the sacrifice that ennobles him who makes it. But mostly there are the long dull sieges, the waiting, the terror and boredom. Women understand this better than men; they are better able to survive attrition.
    • Ch. 12
  • Stardom can be a gilded slavery.
    • Ch. 14
  • I cry out for order and find it only in art.
    • Ch. 14
  • The good die young—but not always. The wicked prevail—but not consistently. I am confused by life, and I feel safe within the confines of the theatre.
    • Ch. 14
  • The worst constructed play is a Bach fugue when compared to life.
    • Ch. 14

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