The Ever-Winsome Helen Hayes & Her First Tony Award
Nicknamed “First Lady of the American Theatre”, actress Helen Hayes career spanned 70 years, earning her the impressive “Showbiz Award Grand Slam”, or EGOT status — a prestigious title shared by just 11 performers including Hayes who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.
Helen Hayes Auction
We are proud to be auctioning Helen Hayes incredibly scarce Tony Award from the first-ever ceremony in 1947.
At the time of this first Tony, she had already won her first of two Oscars, and in 1976 Hayes became the first woman to have won all four awards.
Hayes was honored with the “Best Actress – Dramatic” award for her performance as the year’s “Best Actress – Dramatic” in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway production of the play “Happy Birthday”.
She was directed by Joshua Logan as love-struck librarian Addie, a role written for her by Anita Loos, author of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”
Tony Awards’ eponymous inspiration, Antoinette Perry, had passed away in 1946, and her American Theater Wing co-founder Brock Pemberton initiated the awards to honor her memory. Originally called the “Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre,” the premiere ceremony of the most prestigious awards for Broadway was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York on 6 April 1947.
The Tiffany & Co. sterling silver award is fashioned as a mirrored makeup compact with hinged lid engraved with Hayes’ initials “HH”.
Compact opens to an engraved inscription reading: “THE AMERICAN THEATRE WING / Presents / Your ‘Tony’ / An / Antoinette Perry Award / 1946-47”.
Hayes counted this award among her plethora of others — and was also the recipient of the National Medal of Arts and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Said the actress in one of her 1968 published memoirs, “Without the compensation of glamour, I am hard put to explain the durability of my career and the loyalty of the audience…Perhaps it is just identification…I was once the typical daughter, then the easily recognizable wife, and then the quintessential mother. I seem always to have reminded people of someone in their family. Perhaps I am just the triumph of Plain Jane.”
Be sure to check out all the items from Hayes’ personal estate in our upcoming auction. Not to be missed.