Classic Video Showplace

Jack Haley

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For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.


Perhaps the most popular movie anywhere that is traditionally shown this time of year is the timeless classic – the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz.

While many people know the story of the film’s leading lady Judy Garland, most don’t realize that her supporting cast members had stellar entertainment careers even before this version of “Oz” made its debut.

One of the biggest stars was the man that played Tin Man and Hickory – an actor who wasn’t even a part of the movie when “Oz” began filming.


Jack Haley was born August 10, 1897 in Boston, Massachusetts to Canadian-born parents of Irish descent.  Within months of his birth, his father died due to a tragic accident and Jack later lost his brother to tuberculosis.

Haley quickly became a success in vaudeville and began appearing in films with the 1927 flick, Broadway Madness.  Some of his standout performances in the cinema include Poor Little Rich Girl with Shirley Temple, Higher and Higher with Frank Sinatra, and People Are Funny with Rudy Vallee.  

Jack also had a very popular variety radio show in the mid-1930s…one regular cast member on his show was a young, at that time blonde, showgirl, named Lucille Ball.

He also performed as Davey Lane in the Irving Berlin musical Alexander’s Ragtime Band and starred in a 1936 film called Pigskin Parade, in which his supporting cast members consisted of a new, still relatively unknown singer at that time–Judy Garland.

While Garland was not Metro-Goldwyn-Mayers’s first choice to play Dorothy in Oz, Haley wasn’t brought into production until a near fatal accident befell Buddy Ebsen, the man originally pegged to play the Tin Man.

According to features that accompany the DVD release of Wizard Of Oz, Ebsen was rushed to the hospital early in the filming process when his make-up, made of real aluminum powder, became trapped in his lungs and led to a severe bronchial infection that sidelined him for months.

(Ironically, Ray Bolger was initially slated to play the Tin Man but he persuade

d Ebsen to switch roles, claiming that his body was better suited to the more wiry frame of the Scarecrow.)

Haley was brought in to replace Ebsen and made the role his own.  It was reportedly not the most enjoyable experience in Haley’s career. Dancing in his cumbersome costume was a chore, and the aluminum “paste” they used as a replacement makeup on him also caused recurring health issues and damage to his eyes.

Jack would continue working as a live entertainer and appear in films and television appearances for the next several decades.

Haley appeared with “Oz” co-star Ray Bolger as a presenter for the 51st Annual  Academy Award show weeks before his death.  He was 93 when he passed on.

Jack had two sons–one, Jack Jr. became a two-time Emmy Award winner (and producer of the Academy Awards specials). Jack Jr. also married Liza Minelli, the daughter of another former “Oz” star … Judy Garland.

You can see one of Haley’s starring roles in the 1946 film People Are Funny along with his guest starring roles on classic television shows on the Astound TV Network.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.


The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.