by Maggie Savoy
Los Angeles Times
August 16, 1970
Jack Haley Sr. the Tin Woodman who skipped along with Judy Garland to find his heart and the Wizard of Oz, is now 70, rich, famous, happy, and loving.
And wise: He knows the worth of a penny.
He sits at the Brown Derby, caressing a cup of coffee (lunch is a no-no), caressing his memories (he writes a chapter every now and then) and signing autographs for kids whose parents were kids when he and Judy and the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow skipped “off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
He’s on heart business today: As first vice president of AGVA (American Guild of Variety Artists), he’s working to raise funds for down-and-out entertainers–skaters, shipboard entertainers, circus performers, vaudeville shufflers.
“You can’t be happy here if you don’t see any hope for people who are suffering, impoverished and in pain,” he says. “Who am I to be so fortunate? My being so lucky. I want to give some back.”
Ed Sullivan’s “Entertainer of the Year” TV special on Sept. 20 is one of Haley’s projects to raise money for AGVA’s Sick and Relief Fund.
As for a penny, when Jack Haley was a kid in Boston it was four Scotch Balls, a roll and 10 pennies made his Irish widowed mother smile “very, very wide.”
It was 12 clean-on-the-outside strawberry boxes (collected from garbage pails in the rich end of town); a Shabuoth errand (turn on the lights, light the fire and maybe get a toshen to boot): five minutes in the hack (in case the horse decided to mosey on).
And fun, fun, fun, to bring them home to mother, who worked so hard and loved so hard an dmanaged new shows and a new suit every Easter doing other people’s housework. And who never remarried lest a “stepfather be mean to you and Billy.”
Jack Haley Sr. never felt poor. There were dozens of kids on the stressts in the summertime, and outside of a full stomach, “What else does a kid need?” Instant play, pretty girls to tease, packs of games.”
When he hitched a ride on the sleigh runners and sassed the driver an dfootman and saw the rich kid in the heated cab all covered by furs, he was the one who laughed.
“I never once,” he says now, “had to ask my mother what-can-I-do-today?”
He laughs out loud: “I’ve never been on a psychiatrist’s couch.”