On June 6, 1979, actor Jack Haley died. He is best known for his portrayal of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Haley was a star in the vaudeville circuit as a song-and-dance comedian. In the early 1930’s, he starred in comedy shorts for Vitaphone studiois in Brooklyn, New York. His wide-eyed, good-natured expression landed him supporting roles in musicals such as Poor Little Rich Girl (1936) with Shirley Temple, and Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938) and he eventually appeared in over forty feature films from 1927-1970.
In 1939, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer hired Haley for The Wizard of Oz after another song-and-dance comic, Buddy Ebsen, who was originally set to play the Tin Man, had a near-fatal reaction from inhaling the aluminum dust makeup. The makeup was switched to a paste, to avoid risking the same reaction for Haley. The new makeup did cause an eye infection which caused Haley to miss four days of filming, but he received treatment in time to prevent permanent damage. Haley did not take to the makeup or to the discomfort of the costume very kindly. When being interviewed about the film years later by Tom Snyder, he remarked that many people had commented that making the film must have been fun. Haley's reply: "Like hell it was; it was work.
During her long and storied film career, Shearer was nominated for six lead actress Academy Awards but won only once in 1930 for her portrayal of Jerry Martin in the Divorcee. That same year she was nominated for a second lead actress award for the film, Their Own Desire (1929). Actress Joan Crawford’s alleged reaction to Shearer’s Oscar win was quite catty, “What do you expect? She sleeps with the boss!” Shearer was the wife of MGM executive Irving Thalberg.
Who died on this date:
On August 10, 1932, Animal actor, Rin-Tin-Tin (the first) died. The dog was found by an American serviceman named Lee Duncan in a bombed-out dog kennel in Lorraine, France, less than two months before the end of World War I. He was named for a puppet called Rin tin tin that French children gave to the American soldiers for good luck. The dog returned at war's end with Duncan to his home in Los Angeles, California. Nicknamed Rinty by his owner, the dog learned tricks and could leap great heights. He was seen performing at a dog show by film producer Charles Jones, who paid Duncan to film Rinty. Duncan became convinced Rin Tin Tin could become a star.
www.michaelthomasbarry.com, author of Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950