b. Hyacinth Hazel O’Higgins, 4 October 1922, London, England, d. 10 May 1970, London, England (her year of birth is sometimes listed as 1919). An exuberant comic actor and lively singer and dancer, Hazell was still in her early teens when she appeared as a member of the chorus in the West End production of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s On Your Toes (1937). Her forthright stage presence, to say nothing of her long legs, made her a natural for the very British tradition of having attractive young women play the role of Principal Boy in pantomime and for some years she was very popular in this seasonal aspect of the theatre. Her most notable stage performances came later when, although still only in her mid-thirties, she took the role of the over-the-hill film star Dixie Collins in Wolf Mankowitz’s play Expresso Bongo (1958), with music and lyrics by David Heneker and Monty Norman. She followed this with a vivid portrayal of lubricious Mrs. Squeezum in Lock Up Your Daughters (1959). In the USA, she played Catherine the Great in Frank Loesser’s Pleasures And Palaces (1965), which closed during its out-of-town tryout. That same year, Hazell was back in London and the role of Kay in the very successful Charlie Girl. Among other meaty roles she played well in the late 60s was that of Mrs. Peachum in a revival of The Beggar’s Opera (1968). The following year she was in the unsuccessful Ann Veronica but then came back to the top with the role of Golde in the London production of Fiddler On The Roof. Hazell died suddenly, accidentally choking to death.
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