Hollywood veteran Billie Hayes has passed away at the age of 96. The actress is best known for her iconic portrayal of the comic vicious witch in the series created by Sid and Marty Kroft, "H.R. Pufnstuf".
Billie “Witchiepoo” Hayes is reported to have died from natural causes on Thursday, April 29 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Hospital in Los Angeles. News of Hayes' death was reported by a family spokesperson. The star was under the care of her niece Nancy Powers, nephews Tom Brosch and others.
Aside from the veteran star’s appearance as the evil protagonist in "H.R. Pufnstuf" till 1970, Hayes worked on another children's morning show, teaming up with the Krofft brothers in 1971-72 for the “Lidville” series.
Billie Hayes recently played as a voice actor on The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries
The internet was struck by grief at receiving this sad news, with many industry icons paying tribute to the star. The Kroffts’ responded to Hayes’ demise and made a reference to the late Margaret Hamilton ("Wizard of Oz" star), calling the Witchiepoo star as “one of the best witches ever”. You can check out the reactions below.
The "H.R. Pufnstuf" actor was born in Du Quoin, Illinois on August, 5, 1924. Hayes started out in the showbiz world and slowly made her transition to a career in music and later to acting, which landed her the famed role.
Billie Hayes was from the era of New Hollywood and entered theater after auditioning for the legendary J.J. Shubert. Hayes was brought on board to appear in roadshow theatres such “Student Prince”, “The Merry Widow” and “Blossom Time”.
As a broadway veteran, Billie Hayes had an impactful career from starring as Mammy Yokum in the popular late 1950s musical "Lil’ Abner", appearing in both the Broadway and feature versions. But the star made her debut in the drama world in 1956 on "Leonard Sillman's New Faces".
Hayes’ recent works include lending her voice for “The Black Cauldron” and for other classical cartoon features such as “The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries", "Trollkins", "Darkwing Duck", "The Brothers Flub", "Transformers: Rescue Bots" and "Paw Paws".
Fans of the late Billie Hayes can pay tribute by donating in her memory to Pete Hop, a non-profit organization that rescues and cares for abandoned animals.