The following article appeared in the ‘News of the World’ on 20th November 1966:
‘One of television’s top ten comedy stars, Arthur Haynes died suddenly yesterday – a few weeks before he was due to start a new series. Haynes, who was 52, had a heart attack at his home in Ealing, London, when he was on the brink of international fame.
“Cary Grant had been trying to tempt me to work in Hollywood, either in films or a TV series for him,” Arthur told me recently (writes Weston Taylor). It was Grant’s tip to Hollywood producers which led to Haynes’s American debut in the film ‘Strange Bedfellows’. He had a cameo role, playing a London cabby, but he stole his scenes from Gina Lollobrigida and Rock Hudson.
He was so successful that he was encouraged then to try for big-time stardom in the States. He told me that two main reasons held him back. “I love living in London, mate,” he quipped. “And I’ve got to go easy because of my ticker.” It was only ill-health, I understand, which prevented his inclusion in this year’s Royal Variety Performance.
His detached house at Gunnersbury Drive, Ealing, was his office as well as his home and his wife, Queenie, was his companion and advisor for 26 years.
After starring in an ITV series for ten years, he proudly took home a few months ago a new three-year contract worth about £60,000. “But I shan’t throw my money about,” he told me, “Queenie and I have been married for a long time, but I can remember the days when we only had 12 bob left in the Post Office after we’d got married and bought some furniture.”
He had the ordinary man’s approach to comedy and that, plus his personality and an unerring sense of timing, guaranteed his popularity with the man in the street. He has appeared before royalty and been feted as Britain’s comedian of the year. But he kept his down-to-earth attitude to life.
Once he told me: “I’ve got no false airs and graces mate. I won’t forget I used to be a bus conductor before the war.” It was never too tough at the top for him. His biggest struggles were after the war when, as an unknown comedian, dates in variety theatres were hard to find.
During the war he served in the Royal Engineers, found he had flat feet and talked his way as a soldier into a concert party job with the ‘Stars in Battledress.’ There he met ‘Cheerful’ Charlie Chester and stayed with radio and stage versions of Chester’s ‘Stand Easy’ show for seven years, playing a stooge.” But I revolted against that and wanted some sort of fame on my own,” he told me.
He trailed from comedy jobs at the Windmill Theatre to variety theatres up and down the country, and it was a TV break which gave him stardom. His last date was a long-running revue at Blackpool this summer. His last picture was playing a know-all patient in ‘Doctor in Clover’ when he stole screen honours once again.
“But I shan’t let it go to my ‘ead,” he said. “I just want to keep people laughing.” He could have no finer epitaph than that.’
Arthur Haynes was born in Hammersmith and I was told that at one time he delivered milk in the Shepherd’s Bush streets where I grew up.
Charlie Chester used to tell a very funny war-time story about Arthur: ‘When they were waiting outside Caen, Haynes pointed to a trench full of mud and a million tiny frogs and said that nothing would get him in there. With that a German aircraft started firing near them and Arthur dived straight into the trench and later emerged covered in mud and frogs!’