Terese Hayden Obit


New York Times News Service

Terese Hayden, whose Players’ Guide directory of job-seeking actors helped begin, sustain and revive the careers of generations of performers, died May 23 at her home in Manhattan. She was 98.

Her death was confirmed by her executor, Sarah Drake.

Hayden, known as Terry, spent half a century in the theater as an actress; a teacher at Circle in the Square Theater School, where her students included Kevin Bacon, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Lady Gaga; and a director and producer who promoted the careers of James Dean, Patricia Neal, Eli Wallach and dozens of others.

She also championed the off-Broadway theater as a founder of Equity Library Theater, a nonprofit group that organized low-cost productions for unemployed actors, and through her role in buttressing the Theater de Lys in Greenwich Village, where she staged several well-received plays in the 1950s.

Her most enduring legacy, though, was probably The Players’ Guide: A Pictorial Directory for the Legitimate Theater, a listing of actors for casting directors that included their photographs, stage credits, résumés and telephone numbers, which she founded under the auspices of the Actors’ Equity Association.

“The haphazard world of looking for jobs became a little more organized in 1944, when a young actress named Terese Hayden started Players’ Guide,” actor Arthur Anderson wrote in “An Actor’s Odyssey: From Orson Welles to Lucky the Leprechaun” (2010).

“If you were a member of a performers union you brought your photograph, credits and your money to Terry’s office, which you reached by climbing two flights in the brownstone row house on West 47th Street where Equity was located,” Anderson wrote. “And when the Guide came out three months later, you were ‘identified.”

The guide, which was later taken over by Paul Ross, had separate categories for leading men and women, character actors, ingénues and children, primarily at first in live theater. Among the newcomers it introduced were Ruby Dee, Kirk Douglas, James Earl Jones, Walter Matthau and Paul Newman.

Patterned on The Spotlight, the British actors directory published since 1927, and the Academy Players Directory, a Hollywood version created in 1937 for films, The Players’ Guide helped introduce the tyros, rediscover the forgotten and feed the hungry by providing what Heywood Hale Broun, the actor and sports broadcaster, described as “the doorway to fame.”

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