Actress. She is best remembered for her mostly bad-girl roles in a number of B-movies, including "Attack of the 50 foot Woman," (1958), "The Undead" (1957), and "Zombies of Mora Tau" (1957). Born Mary Jane Hayes in Charleston, West Virginia, she represented Washington DC in the 1949 Miss America pageant. Although unsuccessful, it gave her an opening in local television before she moved on to Hollywood in 1954. Her first film was "Francis Joins the WACs" (1954), in which she played second fiddle to a mule. Her next role, that of Iloico in "Sign of the Pagan" (1954) opposite Jack Palance was a major role for her, but it failed to get her noticed for better films. During the filming of "Sign of the Pagan," she suffered several broken ribs, and while filming the movie, "Foxfire" (1955), she decided to sue Universal Studios for her injuries; Universal fired her and finished the movie without her, and she moved on immediately to Columbia Pictures. She considered her second film with Columbia her best, "Count Three and Pray" (1955), but her costar, Joanne Woodward, caught the attention of the reviewers instead. After breaking her arm in a fall from a horse during the filming of "Gunslinger" (1956), she began working television roles to support herself. In 1958, she played the leading role in "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman," a film that didn't bring her any better roles, but it later attracted a cult classic following. In 1963-1964, she obtained a recurring role of Priscilla Longsworth in the television soap "General Hospital," but by this time, her career was nearing its end. She had a flair for comedy, appearing opposite Dean Martin in "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?" (1963), and opposite Elvis Presley in "Tickle Me" (1965), but other than these two roles, she failed to be noticed for her comic ability. She continued to have guest appearances on the television show "Perry Mason", but as she was having severe health problems, and was able to walk only with a cane, it was difficult for her to obtain work. She ultimately found the cause of her health problems was acute lead poisoning, from a calcium supplement her doctor had prescribed for her. Hayes started a campaign to have the FDA monitor the sale of dietary supplements, but they remain mostly unregulated (she was only partially successful in getting some imported supplements regulated). As her health deteriorated, she was diagnosed with leukemia in 1976. She died at age 46 in February 1977 as the lead poisoning had deteriorated her kidneys, heart and blood vessels.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson