Terese Hayden, whose Players’ Guide directory of job-seeking actors helped begin, sustain and revive the careers of generations of performers, died on May 23 at her home in Manhattan. She was 98.
Her death was confirmed by her executor, Sarah Drake.
Ms. Hayden, known as Terry, spent a half-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 Off Broadway theater — both 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 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. She founded the publication 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,” the 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,” he added, “you brought your photograph, credits and your money to Terry’s office, which you reached by climbing two flights in the brownstone rowhouse on West 47th Street where Equity was located. And when the Guide came out three months later, you were identified.”
The guide was patterned on The Spotlight, the British actors’ directory that had been published since 1927, and the Academy Players Directory, a Hollywood version created in 1937.
It had separate categories for leading men and women, character actors, ingénues, and children. Among the newcomers it introduced were Ruby Dee, Kirk Douglas, James Earl Jones, Walter Matthau and Paul Newman.
The 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.”
Mr. Broun himself was plucked from partial retirement when a casting director spotted him in the guide and got him a bit role with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn in the 1993 film “House Sitter.”
“If you were in the Players’ Guide,” Mr. Broun told The New York Times in 1996, “you knew you would always be remembered.”
The Players’ Guide was later taken over by Paul L. Ross, and after chronicling the careers of generations of actors for five decades, it ceased publication in 1996, overtaken by technology as performers began creating their own videotapes and websites to provide résumés and examples of their acting.
Still, even after it went out of business, the guide constituted a two-dimensional documentary of New York’s theatrical history, annotated with credits and agents and illustrated with black-and-white snapshots.
Together, Rachel L. Swarns wrote in The Times, the volumes provided “a portrait of the careers that rose and fell, the theaters that opened and closed, the pompadours that gave way to crew cuts, and the great migration that swept so many actors from Broadway to Hollywood as New York ceded its role as America’s entertainment center to California.”
Cecile Terese Hyman was born on Feb. 25, 1921, in Nashville to Joseph and Rachel (Weinstein) Hyman, Jewish immigrants from Russia. Her father was a jeweler, her mother a homemaker.
She danced and acted and, when she decided she wanted to direct, found it was easier for her, as a woman, to enter the field as a producer.
“I won’t say I had a need to ‘perform,’ ” she told Backstage magazine in 1998. “I’d say I had a need to express myself. I dislike the word ‘performance,’ because it suggests an abandonment of text in order to talk to an audience about yourself.”
After graduating from the conservatory program of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York in 1941, she trained at the Actors Studio. She changed her name professionally in 1940 and, during World War II, organized shows in hospitals through the United Theatrical War Activities Committee.
As an assistant to the director Herman Shumlin in the 1950s, she wangled an audition for an unknown actor who had impressed her in a play titled “See the Jaguar,” which lasted only five performances at the Cort Theater in 1952.
The actor’s name was James Dean. Shumlin cast Dean as an Arab houseboy in “The Immoralist,” which led to his breakout performance in Elia Kazan’s 1955 film version of John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.”
Ms. Hayden’s marriage to William Ellsworth Clow II in 1954 ended in divorce. No immediate family members survive.
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