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Billie Hayes Dead: Witchiepoo on ‘HR Pufnstuf’ was 96

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5:26 PM PDT 05/03/2021

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Mike Barnes

She also played Mammy Yokum in the Broadway and big screen versions of “Li’l Abner”.

Billie Hayes, who played the sneer Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo on Sid and Marty Krofft’s HR Pufnstuf and the rambling Mammy Yokum in the Broadway and big screen versions of Li’l Abner, is dead. She was 96 years old.

Hayes died of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Thursday, a family spokesperson said.

After playing the role of the evil protagonist of the 1969-1970 children’s program HR Pufnstuf, she worked again with the Krofft brothers in 1971-72 on Lidsville, another Saturday morning show for kids (she played the incompetent Weenie the Genie on that one).

The Kroffts reacted on Twitter to the news of his death:

Most recently, Hayes served as a voice actor for The black cauldron (1985) and for cartoons such as Trollkins, The New Mysteries of Scooby-Doo, Paw paws, Black wing duck, The Flub brothers and Transformers: rescue robots.

Born August 5, 1924 in DuQuoin, Ill., Hayes performed in high school conductor Vince Genovese’s orchestra, then toured with her own singing and dancing number throughout the Midwest.

After moving to New York City, she auditioned for theater legend JJ Shubert and was hired for lead roles in three roadshow operettas: Student prince, The Merry Widow and Flowering time.

Hayes made his Broadway debut in Leonard Sillman’s New faces of 1956, then succeeded Charlotte Rae as Mammy Yokum in Li’l Abner. She played the Naked Dogpatch Champion for the remainder of her Broadway run until July 1958, then starred in the 1959 Paramount big-screen version which also starred Peter Palmer, Leslie Parrish, Stubby Kaye, Julie Newmar and Stella Stevens. (Hayes portrayed Mammy Yokum again in a 1971 ABC TV movie.)

In 1966, she went on tour with the national company of Hello Dolly!, with Betty Grable, and later appeared on TV shows such as Monkeys, Nice to meet you, Trapper John, MD and General hospital.

Survivors include her niece, Nancy, and her nephews Tom, Louie and Guy.

Donations in her memory can be made to the humanitarian organization she founded: Pet Hope, PO Box 69493, West Hollywood CA 90048.



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