RIP: Billie Hayes

Billie Hayes who performed on Broadway, in movies and on television died on April 29th at the age of 96.  Her death from natural causes was announced today by her family.

Mrs. Hayes first Broadway appearance was in Leonard Sillman’s New Faces in 1956. She was then cast as Mammy Yokum in the Broadway version of Li’l Abner.  When Li’l Abner was turned into a feature film, Hayes reprised her role as Mammy Yokum.

Billy Hayes first television role was on The Monkees.  Her next television role was the one she became best known for, as Witchiepoo on HR Pufnstuff (tv series) and in the Pufnstuff movie.  After that series ended Hayes appeared once again as Mammy Yokum in the Li’l Abner tv movie.  Hayes went on to make guest appearances on Bewitched, Lidsville (as a series co-star), Donny and Marie, Murder She Wrote, General Hospital and many other shows.  In 1981, Hayes also began doing voice work (on shows such as The Flintstone Comedy Show, The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, Darkwing Duck, Talespin to name just a few).  She continued doing voice work until she retired in 2016.

Not many performers have a career as long as Billie Hayes.  She was able to successfully transition between stage, feature films and television.  I, like many of her fans, knew her best from her role as Witchiepoo.  I was ten when the series premiered.  My brother and I got into trouble for calling my youngest sister, Witchiepoo.  It’s funny the things you remember.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Billie Hayes’ family, friends and fans.