Official Issuing of the Helen Hayes Commemorative Stamp

April 26, 2011

Helen Hayes Hospital will mark the official issuing of the Helen Hayes Commemorative Stamp at an event on Friday, April 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm at the physical rehabilitation hospital in West Haverstraw. The entire community is invited to come and celebrate the life and legacy of the “First Lady of the American Theater” and her indomitable spirit of hope, which continues to sustain the hospital that bears her name.

Speaking at the event will be Val S. Gray, Chief Executive Officer of Helen Hayes Hospital and C. Scott Vanderhoef, Rockland County Executive. They will be joined by Helen Hayes’ daughter-in-law, HB MacArthur, in unveiling a large poster-size image of the United States Postal Service’s new Forever stamp.

The stamp features original art by Drew Struzan, whose movie posters for the Indiana Jones and Star Wars series have been seen by millions. Struzan based his design for the stamp on a photograph taken of Hayes circa 1958. The stamp was officially issued at the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington DC on April 25.

Helen Hayes enjoyed a lengthy and successful entertainment career, acting from the age of 5 to 85, earning her title of “First Lady of the American Theater.” She is one of only two women to receive all four prestigious entertainment awards: a Tony, Oscar, Emmy and Grammy. Helen continued writing books during her retirement years, finishing her acclaimed autobiography, My Life in Three Acts, at age 90.

The actress and Rockland County resident was appointed to the hospital’s Board of Visitors in 1944. Having lost her daughter Mary to polio in 1949, Mrs. MacArthur was an indefatigable visitor to the hospital’s patients, encouraging them to strive to recover. She recruited her friends from the world of stage and screen to support the hospital. In recognition of her efforts, the hospital was renamed in her honor in 1974. In 1992, the hospital established the Helen Hayes MacArthur Rose Award to acknowledge the achievements of individuals who dedicate their lives to helping others achieve their highest potential. The award was presented to Mrs. MacArthur posthumously in 1993, the year of her death.

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef says, “A true inspiration to many, Helen Hayes MacArthur put the needs of others before her own and so generously gave back to the community that she loved so very much. Issuing a stamp in her name is a sure way to forever remember her dedication and support to the hospital, its patients and our Rockland community.”

“Mrs. MacArthur imbued this hospital with a legacy of hope and achievement and that gift sustains our patients and staff every day,” states hospital CEO Val Gray. “We can think of no one more deserving of the honor of a U.S. stamp.”

The stamp ceremony on April 29 is open to the public. The “Forever” stamp and commemorative envelopes will be available for sale at the event.