‘It Ain’t Hay’ co-star Patsy O’Connor dies at 87

Patsy O’Connor, niece of dancer and actor Donald O’Connor and co-star of It Ain’t Hay (1943), died on July 4, 2017 in New Jersey from complications from Alzheimer’s. She was 87.

Patsy was born in New York City in 1930 into the O’Connor Family, which was billed as the “Royal Family of Vaudeville.” The act consisted of three generations of O’Connors: parents John and Effie; sons Jack, Bill, and Donald; Jack’s wife Millie; and their little daughter, Patsy.

In a 1936 review, Variety wrote, “Patsy…comes in for some cute work a la Shirley Temple. She mikes ‘Object of My Affection’ and ‘Thanks a Million,’ much to the delight and appreciation of the customers. This little miss has plenty of stage presence and enunciates more clearly than most grownups.”

Patsy was the first O’Connor to appear in a film. Harry Cohn signed her to be Columbia’s answer to Shirley Temple. When she was four she was cast in Redheads on Parade (1935).

In 1942 Patsy, then 12, was cast in It Ain’t Hay. “I had just come from New York where I was doing ‘Panama Hattie’ with Ethel Merman,” Patsy recalled in the book, Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. “I tested for the role of Princess. They felt that Gloria Jean was too old. We knew Bud and Lou from vaudeville. My father, Jack, had run into them in burlesque.”

Patsy recalled a scene in the film where she had to cry. “But Lou had me in such hysterics that [director] Erle C. Kenton came over and said, ‘Lou, would you stop it! This girl has to cry!’ And Lou just gave a pout, like a little boy, and walked away. It was impossible to be sad with Lou around.”

Her last film credit was the film noir Quicksand (1950).•

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