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Staats Cotsworth and Julie Haydon were two Oak Parkers who gained fame in the entertainment industry.
Not too many people are familiar with the name Staats Cotsworth, but he was a main character in a number of radio and TV shows over a 30-year period.
Staats was born in Oak Park on Feb. 17, 1908, graduated from the public schools and from the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts. He entered the acting profession in New York in the early 1930s as a member of Eve La Galliene's repertory company. Even though he was a classically-trained actor, he decided to be a radio actor, and it was in radio where he became famous and wealthy.
In the mid-1940s and early 1950s, he was earning over $50,000 a year appearing in such shows as Mr. and Mrs. North, Stella Dallas and Crime Photographer. When the popularity of radio declined in the mid-'50s, Staats moved to television and appeared in episodes of Dr. Kildare and Bonanza. He was also a regular performer on The Edge of Night and As The World Turns.
His parents wanted him to be a lawyer, but he wanted to be an actor and an artist. He achieved both of his goals. In fact, he became an accomplished painter in both oils and watercolors and a number of his creations are located in galleries and private collections nationwide.
Staats was married to Muriel Kirkland until her death in 1971, and then he was married to the actress Josephine Hutchinson from 1972 until his death in 1979.
Julie Haydon gained fame as a stage, screen and television actress during the years 1929-55 and 1962-80.
She was born Donella Donaldson in Oak Park on June 10, 1910 and graduated from the local public schools.
Julie started her acting career in 1929 with a touring company. Soon she made it to Hollywood where she appeared in Hamlet. In 1931, she made her first movie — a western with Johnny Mack Brown. Her first major role came when she appeared in The Conquerors in 1931. Her best known performance was in The Scoundrel, where she starred with Noel Coward, but her career began to wane, and she retired from film in 1937.
Her next performances were on Broadway where she appeared in Shadow and Substance. Her most successful roles were as Kitty Duval in The Time of Your Life and as Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. Her last stage appearance was in 1947.
That was the year she began acting in television with performances on Kraft Television Theater, Armstrong Circle Theater, and Robert Montgomery Presents.
In 1955, she married George Nathan, a drama critic, who died in 1958. Julie never remarried. After Nathan's death, she worked as a drama coach and gave lectures based on her husband's books and wrote magazine articles about actors with whom she had worked.
By 1962, she left New York and moved to La Crosse, Wis. For a number of years, she was actress-in-residence at the College of St. Teresa in Winona, Minn. She did return to New York in 1980 to play the mother role in The Glass Menagerie.
Julie Haydon died in La Crosse in 1994, and she is buried next to her husband in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in New York City.
I wish to thank the research librarians at the Oak Park Public Library for assisting me in finding materials regarding the lives of both Mr. Cotsworth and Miss Haydon.
John Stanger is a lifelong resident of Oak Park, a 1957 graduate of OPRF High School, married with three grown children and five grandchildren, and a retired English professor at Elmhurst College. Living two miles from where he grew up, he hasn't gotten far in 71 years.
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