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John Michael HayesJMH-Library.jpg

May 11, 1919 – Nov 19, 2008

Noted Hollywood screenwriter John Michael Hayes passed away from natural causes November 19th, in Hanover, New Hampshire.    Hayes’ career spanned over 40 years and nearly 30 films, with some of the most famous names in Hollywood history, including Alfred Hitchcock, Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable and many more.  Hayes’ famous titles include such films as “Rear Window”, “Peyton Place”, “The Man Who Knew Too Much”, “The Carpetbaggers” and “Nevada Smith”.

Hayes’ was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1919 to John Michael Hayes, Sr. and Ellen Hayes (nee’ Ellis).  He began his writing career at a young age, serving as Editor of the Boy Scout Journal and an AP stringer in New York at the age of 16.

Following stateside service in WWII, Hayes moved to California, where he began writing radio-plays for such shows as “Inner Sanctum”, “I love a Mystery”, “My Favorite Husband”, and “Richard Diamond”.  The best remembered of his radio dramas was probably “Sam Spade”, for which he wrote such scripts as the notorious “CHARGOGGAGOGGMANCHAUGGAGOGGCHAUBUNAGUNGAMAUGG Caper”.

It was during this time that Hayes met and later married fashion model Mildred Louise Hicks, known as “Mel” to friends and family.  The two were married in 1950, and remained married until Mel’s death in 1989.  Together, they raised four children:  Rochelle, Garrett, Meredyth and Corey.

It was in 1952 that Hayes made the transition from radio to film, penning the script for “The Red Ball Express” which starred Jeff Chandler in a story of the famous WWII allied supply-train across Europe.  It was during the infamous Hollywood Blacklist era that Hayes began using his full name professionally, after confusion with another writer put his career in jeopardy.

From this start, Hayes went on to write screenplays for many well known projects, including a total of four films with director Alfred Hitchcock – more than any other single writer.   Decades later, in 2001, author Steven DeRosa would publish “Writing with Hitchcock”, detailing the pair’s often tumultuous period working together.

Hayes was nominated for the Academy award for best screenplay for “Rear Window” in 1954 and again for “Peyton Place” in 1957, winning the Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America for ”Rear Window”.

Hayes retired from active screenwriting in the late 1980’s, and moved in 1988 to Hanover, New Hampshire to take up a post at Dartmouth College, teaching screenwriting to a new generation of film-makers in the school’s Film and Media Studies department.

Hayes continued to teach and lecture for several years.  His final film credit, “Iron Will”, was released in 1994.  An original work based on the true story of a famous dog-sled race in the early years of the 20th century, the film was a project that Hayes had nurtured for a number of years, and was a fitting coda to his long career in screenwriting.

Hayes suffered a stroke in 2000, but continued to lecture occasionally as time and conditions permitted.  In 2004, he was honored by the Writers Guild of America (West) with the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement, for his lifetime body of work across 5 decades of film history.

Hayes passed away from natural causes on November 19th of 2008, at his residence in the Kendal at Hanover community near the Dartmouth campus.

Memorial Donations

In lieu of flowers, donations in Memory of John Michael Hayes may be made to:

Kendal at Hanover

80 Lyme Road

Hanover, NH 03755

for The Cadbury Fund