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"I don't want to have to get ugly."

- Richard Haydn as Edwin Carp

In his most comic roles, Richard Haydn deliberately makes himself sound as if he were talking through his nose, although he avoided doing this in his most popular film, The Sound of Music (1965).

Richard Haydn (1905 - 1985) was an English comic actor in radio, films and television. Born on March 10th, 1905, in London and got his start in show business selling tickets in the box office of London's Daly Theatre. This was followed by an unsuccessful stint with a comedy act in a musical revue. For a time he became overseer of a Jamaican banana plantation only to see it wiped out by a hurricane.

After returning home, he appeared in the 1926 West End production of 'Betty of Mayfair' and, soon after, also began to act on radio. It was in this medium, where he first found success, creating his signature character, the perpetually befuddled nasally-voiced fish expert and mother's boy Edwin Carp. Haydn later immortalised the character in a book, The Journal of Edwin Carp.

Haydn would reprise the Edwin Carp character on a 1964 season three episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show (below).

Edwin Carp:
"A poem glorifying the pedal extremity, entitled 'Feet' by Scoutmaster Alan: 'You need feet to stand up straight with. You need feet to kick your friends. You need feet to keep your socks on and stop your legs from fraying at the ends. You need feet to stand on tippy-toe - hm - or to dance the hoochie coo. Yes, the whole...'
[seemingly miffed at catching the audience laughing at him]
I don't want to have to get ugly. 'Yes, the whole world needs feet for something, and I need feet to run away from you.'"

The Carp routine opened the door for Haydn to appear with Beatrice Lillie on Broadway in Noel Coward's 'Set to Music' (1939) and this, in turn, resulted in a contract with 20th Century Fox.

My Father

'Too often he looks on the wine when 'tis red
And many a day he will lie in his bed;
With nought but foul oaths for his kith and his kin,
A pitiful sight with his unshaven chin.

Please try to remember the Dad you once were
Ere Bacchus, with alcohol, made you a cur.
Oh! turn to the fam'ly who hold you so dear
And please, Father Mine, do not drink so much beer.'

by 'Edwin Carp'
from “The Journal of Edwin Carp” by Richard Hayden

While his screen debut in Charley's Aunt (1941) was relatively straight-laced, he was more known for playing eccentric, scene-stealing characters, such as, Claud Curdle (Mr. Music, 1950), Richard Rancyd (Miss Tatlock's Millions, 1948), Stanley Stayle (Dear Wife, 1949) and Horatio Willing (The Late George Apley (1947). His notable characterisations include the over-enunciating Professor Oddly in Ball of Fire (1941, below), Rogers the butler in And Then There Were None (1945) and Mr. Wilson in Cluny Brown (1946). He essayed a rare villainous role as the odious Earl of Radcliffe in the period drama Forever Amber (1947) and was back in his best form as Mr. Appleton in Sitting Pretty (1948).

In the late 40's, Haydn made a brief foray into directing. Of his three films for Paramount, the Bing Crosby vehicle Mr. Music (1950) enjoyed the best critical reviews. Among his later appearances on screen, Haydn performed as the nosy neighbor and gossip in Sitting Pretty with Clifton Webb and Maureen O'Hara in 1948, using his over-nasal voice. He was Prof. Summerlee in 1960's The Lost World, and in the same year played opposite Doris Day in Please Don't Eat the Daisies.

Haydn is also well remembered for his role as "Uncle" Max Detweiler in The Sound of Music (1965). In most of his comic roles, his stage delivery was done in a deliberate over-nasalized and over-enunciated manner, making himself sound as if he were talking through his nose, although he avoided doing this in The Sound of Music.

Over the years, Haydn also made an impression as a voice actor in animated cartoons, notably on Warner Brothers Looney Tunes ('Super-Rabbit', 1943) and as the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland (1951), and was regular on the Burns and Allen radio show. He had frequent guest roles on television and starred in one of the best-remembered episodes of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone (1959), 'A Thing About Machines' (1960), as the pedantic, machine-hating egocentric Bartlett Finchley. He also guest starred in episodes of Bewitched (1964), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1965) and McCloud (1972) and appeared as Herr Falkstein in Young Frankenstein (1974).

In private life, Richard Haydn was a rather reclusive individual who liked horticulture, shunned interviews and was never particularly integral to the closely-knit British colony in Hollywood. In the DVD commentary of Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks said that Haydn eschewed the Hollywood lifestyle, and that he used gardening and horticulture as a means of escape. In 1943 he was engaged for several months to Maria Riva, daughter of Marlene Dietrich. Haydn died of a heart attack on April 25th, 1985, in Los Angeles, California.

    Selected Richard Haydn TVography

ABC Stage 67
- The Wide Open Door (1967)

- A Majority of Two (1968)

- The Lady and the Mountain Lion (1969)

Burke's Law
- Who Killed Jason Shaw? (1964)

The Dick Van Dyke Show
- The Return of Edwin Carp (1964)

General Electric Theater
- The Ugly Duckling (1960)

It Takes a Thief
- The Old Who Came in from the Spy (1969)

- A Very Small Assignment (1966)

Love, American Style
- Love and the Impossible Gift (1973)

Lux Playhouse
- This Will Do Nicely (1959)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
- The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair (1965)

- Fifth Man in a String Quartet (1972)

Philco Television Playhouse
- The King and Mrs. Candle (1954)

Playhouse 90
- Heart of Darkness (1958)
- Topaze (1957)
- Where's Charley? (1957)

Producers' Showcase
- The King and Mrs. Candle (1955)

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
- A Quarter for Your Troubles (1952)

Shirley Temple's Storybook
- The Emperor's New Clothes (1958)

The Twilight Zone
- A Thing About Machines (1960)

    Selected Richard Haydn Filmography


With Your Kind Permission (UK, TV Movie)

Red Peppers (UK, TV Movie)

Marshal Your Facts! (UK, TV Short)


Ball of Fire

Charley's Aunt


Thunder Birds: Soldiers of the Air

Are Husbands Necessary?


No Time for Love

Forever and a Day

Who Killed Who? (Short, voice, uncredited)


And Then There Were None


Tonight and Every Night


Cluny Brown

The Green Years


The Late George Apley

The Beginning or the End

The Foxes of Harrow


Forever Amber


Sitting Pretty

Miss Tatlock's Millions

The Emperor Waltz


Dear Wife (uncredited)


Mr. Music


Alice in Wonderland (voice)


The Merry Widow


Money from Home

Never Let Me Go


Her Twelve Men


Jupiter's Darling


The Toy Tiger


Twilight for the Gods


Please Don't Eat the Daisies

The Lost World


Mutiny on the Bounty

Five Weeks in a Balloon


Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion

The Sound of Music


The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin


The Return of Charlie Chan (TV Movie)


Young Frankenstein


The Hugga Bunch (TV Movie, voice, uncredited)

My Neat Stuff Hall of Fame Look






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