November 1966 – QPR Fan and Top Comedy Star Arthur Haynes Dies Suddenly

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!’

Steve Russell

10 thoughts on “November 1966 – QPR Fan and Top Comedy Star Arthur Haynes Dies Suddenly

  1. Thanks for this post, Steve – I can remember, as a child, loving Arthur’s show on ITV, with his excellent supporting cast of Dermot Kelly (‘Irish’), Nicholas Parsons and the loud-mouthed Rita Webb (have I missed anyone else out here?) I never knew until recently that Arthur Haynes was a keen supporter of the Club. I came across the following report in the Shepherds Bush Gazette from July 1961:


    TV comic Arthur Haynes has always been a keen supporter of Queens Park Rangers. Whenever he’s free of his entertainment commitments he goes to cheer Rangers on.
    Now Mr.Haynes, who has shot to fame with his own TV series, has been approached by the club to become a director. But it is understood he has declined, although the club have had no official notification. At present, Mr.Haynes, of Popes Lane, Ealing, is at Yarmouth appearing in his holiday show, and will not be returning until September.
    But Mrs. Haynes told the Gazette that Mr. Haynes had “weighed up the pros and cons of the offer and I know he has decided to decline. He is so booked up within the next two years that he will have little opportunity to watch the Rangers play.
    But Arthur has always been a keen supporter of the club and knows the directors well. He’s quite a fan really. I think it has been one of his ambitions to become a director but when that day materialises we shall have to wait and see, certainly not in the immediate future.”

    QPR Secretary John Smith commented: “The idea of asking Mr. Haynes was not for a personality director. You wouldn’t want a director for his name, the publicity stuff doesn’t come into it. Arthur Haynes is such an ardent supporter of the club and what we are looking for is a young man, such as he is, who is active and can drive the club along.”

    Who knows if Arthur Haynes might have reconsidered at a later stage? Sadly, he died at a comparatively young age, just 5 years after being offered the directorship at the club.
    I think the Secretary, John Smith, was being somewhat disingenuous in stating that the club were not looking to appoint a ‘personality director’. I don’t suppose that Arthur would have brought any significant funding to the club. I think it would have been more of a prestige appointment for the club, rather than a source of much needed new investment. The secretary’s argument that the club were looking for younger men to join the board does hold water, however, as evinced by the later (thankfully short-lived appointment) of the washing machine tycoon, John Bloom, to the board, and then, the man who transformed Rangers fortunes, Jim Gregory.

  2. I think I am right in saying that Patricia Hayes (of ‘Edna The Inebriate Woman’ and ‘Till Death Us Do Part’/ ‘In Sickness And In Health’ fame) was also a member of Arthur Haynes’ supporting cast.

  3. Arthur Haynes was a very big TV star in the early 1960’s. At the time I did not realise his strong local and QPR connections.

    An inclusion of Arthur Haynes on to the QPR board of directors would in my view have been a personality appointment following in the footsteps of a likewise individual Billy Cotton senior.(Wakey Wakey)

    In those days of the late 50’s and early 60’s their was an air of the showbiz about Loftus Rd and a number of charity matches involving TV stars were played at the ground.

    Yes John I’m sure Patricia Hayes was once a member of his supporting cast.

  4. Really pleased that you put up that article John. His name appeared on the Supporters Club Committee list for a number of years, but so little documented regarding his support for the R’s. Thanks mate.

  5. Never knew he was one of us until Steve told me.
    One of a kind that is for sure,sad his time on earth was cut down just as he was about to become a world star it would seem.

  6. Very happy to share this with you and the readers, Steve, and of course, anything else that I find that might be of interest. I must say that I have always found this a fabulously interesting and most comprehensive site, so many congratulations on the consistently high standard of it. It’s funny now, looking back at the Dermot Kelly tramp character, ‘Irish’. No doubt there would be some PC fuss nowadays, but when I think back, my Dad, a proud Irishman hailing from ‘the rebel county’ [Cork] used to absolutely adore that character. Yes, Kerrins, I had noticed the amount of showbiz charity games that took place in the late 50s and early 60s. From what I can glean from my research, it seemed that the proceeds went towards an annual players benefit fund, for which a recipient was nominated every year. Oh, and loved the Arthur Haynes documentary that went out on BBC4 a few years back; must record it for posterity if it is ever repeated.

  7. Great Article Steve – never knew he was an R’s fan. Brought back a lot of happy memories of watching his show on the telly with the family when I was a kid. I remember the Tramps sketches most and my Dad and Uncles always using his Catch phrase, ‘when I was up to me Neck in Muck and Bullets’, if they talked about what they did in the War.
    Happy Days!!

  8. Great Write UP. Knew For Years Arthur Was One Of Our Family. Me Dad Said Years Ago Arthur Was One Of Us Rangers(Aragon Lord Of The Rings I Ard Ri Stylee.) Im Sure Charlie Chester Was One Of Us GoodFellows Too. God Bless Dad And All Our Old School Gang.

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