Vernon Hayden was born c. 1914 into a large theatrical family of eight children located in Donaghmore, county Tyrone, Northern Ireland. His father was Will Hayden, and his mother had the stage name of Kitty Leroy. His parents ran a touring company, "The Hayden Family Entertainers" which travelled Britain and Ireland playing repertory and variety. In his early career, Vernon Hayden toured with companies such as W.L Dobell, Richard Carrickford, and the famous pantomime comedian Jim Johnson. In 1940 he and Johnson joined O’D Productions, the company founded by music hall performer Jimmy O’Dea and Harry O’Donavon. He joined O’Dea on tours of Ireland and the UK, and most notably to Australia and New Zealand in 1961, and also managed O’D Productions from 1948 until 1976. He then joined Gaels of Laughter Company where he worked along side Maureen Potter. Throughout his career Hayden worked in radio, television and movies such as Wedding Night (1969) and Lock Up Your Daughters (1969). He also acted in musicals and plays in theatres such as Queens, Olympia and Theatre Royal. However he is most well remembered for his performances as the ‘Baddie’ in the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin Christmas Pantomime, where he performed from 1940 until 1988. In 1986 Hayden was awarded life membership of Equity. He was president of the Irish branch of The Actors’ Church Union. He was a supporter of amateur theatre, and frequently adjudicated for Tops of the Towns and other variety competitions. He was founding president of the Entertainers Golfing society (founded 1965) whose membership included Jack Cruise, Milo O’Shea, and Edmond Browne. He died on 30 August 1990 in Nursing Home in Bray after two years of illness and is buried in Springfield cemetery, Killarney road, Bray. The 'Vernon Hayden Award’ for most promising performer at Tops of the Town was founded in his memory.
Archival History ↴
The Vernon Hayden collection was deposited to the Irish Theatre Archive Collection held at Dublin City Library and Archive in 2008 by his grandniece Fiona Nugent
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Vernon Hayden ↴
34 scripts including pantomime scripts by Harry O’Donavon and Gaels of Laughter sketches; 40 handbills; publicity posters for A Date With Laughter (1954) and Gaiety Revels 1961 Tour. 250 theatre photographs (1935-1985) including production, publicity and street-clothes photographs. Includes photographs of Jimmy O’Dea, Hal Roach, Maureen Potter, Danny Cummins, Austin Gaffney, Rosaleen Linehan, and Milo O’Shea; Correspondence (c. 70 items) of Vernon Hayden (1959-1962) mainly relating to O’D Productions Company and matters such as contracting acts, performers, and dance troupes; hiring costumes and scenery; locating suitable venues for Jimmy O’Dea tours; ensuring adequate publicity for tours, and negotiating financial matters. Includes correspondence received from Jimmy O’Dea, Harry O’Donavon, Louis Elliman (manager of the Gaiety Theatre), Stewart Cruikshank (managing director of Howard and Wynham Limited) and Percy Holmshaw (Irish Theatrical Agency); Production notes (c.50 items, 1959-1962) including material relating to the tour of New Zealand, Australia and Canada by a group of Irish variety performers, which included Jimmy O’Dea, Joseph Locke, Jack Barrett, Minnie Clancy, Charles Lynch, and Vernon Hayden. Includes letters received from Irish Diaspora; press-cuttings (24 items); theatre programs (1939-1986) from the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin Palace Theatre Cork, Savoy Theatre Limerick, Olympia Dublin, Metropolitan Musical Hall London and other theatres. Programs relate mainly to plays, pantomimes, musicals and variety shows in which Hayden appeared.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
The collection is arranged by document type, and then chronologically.
Conditions of Access & Use
Available to view by public who apply for research card in Dublin City Library and Archive Reading Room, 138-144 Pearse street, Dublin 2.
Conditions Governing Reproduction
Subject to Dublin City Library and Archive Reading Room Terms of Membership and in accordance with copyright legislation.
4 boxes + 1 outsize folder
Material Language Script
Descriptive list; Irish Theatre Archive Program Database; DCLA Photographic Database
Archive Web Link →
Photographs have been scanned
Irish Theatre Archive held at DCLA, in particular ITA/131 Jimmy O’Dea Collection
Descriptive Control Area
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.