R.I.P. Billie Hayes, the wicked witch known as Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf

The Broadway veteran was 96 years old.

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Sid and Marty Krofft sure had active imaginations. In a span of a few years, the brothers created some of the surreal children's programming in television history. It began with The Banana Splits for Hanna-Barbera in 1968, but the two stepped out on their own a year later with H.R. Pufnstuf. The similarly minded series The BugaloosLidsvilleSigmund and the Sea Monsters, and Land of the Lost followed.

But H.R. Pufnstuf set the mold, with its youthful protagonist, floppy costumed creatures, and psychedelic fantasy. Jimmy (Jack Wild) was the hero, aided by the titular star H.R. Pufnstuf, a bulbous dragon. But every story needs a villain. Enter Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo.

With her iconic cackle, Witchiepoo is undoubtedly implanted in the memory of any kid who grew up in the era. Billie Hayes, a Broadway veteran, portrayed the witch. She became such an icon (in a shockingly short amount of time — Pufnstuf only aired for 17 episode) that Hayes essentially played iterations of the same character on other shows. See the Bewitched episode "Hansel and Gretel in Samantha-Land," for example. She was also Weenie the Genie in Lidsville.

Those of an older generation might remember her better as Mammy Yokum, the scrappy matriarch of Li'l Abner. Hayes played the character, which was born in the popular newspaper comic strips, both on stage and in the 1959 film. Here she is in character.

The Everett Collection

Born and raised in Illinois, Hayes continued to work in children's television for decades, into her 90s, as recently as 2016, when she voiced a character on Transformers: Rescue Bots. On April 29, she died of natural causes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 96.

Sid and Marty Krofft — still working in television to this day — honored her on Twitter with this touching tweet.


 
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Michael 2 days ago
I always liked Witch Hazel better, but she was only in the movie.

But I must admit, Witchiepoo's makeup certainly made her unattractive. Billie Hayes looks nothing like her.
Which Witch Hazel are you talking about? The only Witch Hazel I know about is the WH from Warner Brothers, that was voiced by June Foray.
I think he means Witch Hazel from the movie Pufnstuf. Played by Cass Elliot.
Case Elliott wasn’t she with the Mama and the Papas
Michael stephaniestavr5 1 minute ago
Yes, "Pufnstuf", the movie. Martha Raye plays Boss Witch, I recall a witch convention. Cass Elliott later had a special "Don't Call Me Mama Anymore".

She sings a song in the film that always seemed like a variation on "Make Your Own Kind of Music"
Rick 4 days ago
Great talent. She also brought Witchie-poo to Paul Lynde's famous Halloween special.
denny 4 days ago
As a 4 or 5 year old, Lidsville was scary. Just realized recently that Butch Patrick played the kid, and of course Charles Nelson Reilly and Billie Hayes as the witch. I do remember the Hansel and Gretal Bewitched, but now am going to have to view it again to see Billie.

RIP Billie
stephaniestavr5 denny 3 days ago
Billie Hayes was Witchie Poo on H. R. Pufnstuf. She was Weenie the Genie, and Charles Nelson Reilley was Hoo Doo the magician on Lidsville.
denny stephaniestavr5 2 days ago
I just went and watched an episode on YouTube. Maybe this explains my hatred of top hats:)
Which episode did you watch, that explains your dislike of top hats? You didn't mention any one specific.
denny stephaniestavr5 22 hours ago
You know they have that big top hat that he falls in. The episode I watched was the one with the beanstalk.
Corey 4 days ago
RIP Billie you made my Saturdays with HR Pufnstuf. Billie Hayes much like Margaret Hamilton was a children's advocate.
VaughnBaskin 4 days ago
I Think MeTV should bring both H.R. Pufnstuf and Lidsville to their Summer Of Me lineup soon, for Billie.
kb7rky 4 days ago
This saddens me to no end.

Good night, funny lady, and rest well.
Barry22 4 days ago
RIP. She will be buried alongside Freddy the Flute.
sputnik_57 4 days ago
I remember Witchiepoo and Puffin'Stuff. I always connect the Banana Splits with this show for some reason. Billy Hayes reminded me of the guy who wrote "Midnight Express" which became a movie. requiescat in pace.
That's Pufnstuf Sputnik not Puffin'Stuff!
A woman reminded you of a man who wrote a movie? Where's the resemblance? One has indoor, the other has outdoor plumbing. Oh, and by the way Sputnik_57, she spelled her first name Billie, not Billy.
Well, ex-cuse me! Maybe I should have just said "ding-dong the wicked witch is dead" and left it at that!
MrsPhilHarris 5 days ago
Was it Witchiepoo that sang “Oranges smoranges! Who said? Oranges smoranges! Who said? Orange smoranges! Who said there ain’t no rhyme for oranges?”. Which for some weird reason got stuck in my head last week.
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texasluva lynngdance 2 days ago
!!Wanted!! but preferred Alive
Those that wish to participate in the Weekly Movie Quiz.
Reward:
Conversation as to what this movie might be. Along with a music vid, Movie trailer and PC background pic. Drive-in movie will be provided.
Winners name in MeTV Lights
Just plain ole fun
Friday Night....Friday Night .....We all get together on Friday Night!
Let's go to: Who is Bugs Bunny facing off against in these classic cartoons?
No later then 10:00 P.M CT (start time)
Bonus movie also provided (no guess needed) Requested blockbuster tonight.
We are foregoing horror movies for another showing. 3 great movies and one to guess tonight.
Lynn. You can also draw a pic of Carmen Miranda since it will be an extra bonus movie. You know the one with the fruit in her hair. Hope to see you.
lynngdance texasluva 2 days ago
I’ll be there! Can’t make any promises of how good the drawing will be though Lol 😆.
texasluva lynngdance 2 days ago
If you wish to do Oceans Eleven instead you can. Both are bonus movies.
Peter_Falk_Fan 5 days ago
Does anyone remember her guest starring on Bewitched? She plays the witch on the episode "Hansel and Gretel in Samanthaland" She had one of, if not the best witch's laugh ever, IMHO. RIP Billie Hayes.
Do you, does anyone, remember her guesting along with Margaret Hamilton on Paul Lynde's memorable, {to quote ALF: "HA!"} Halloween special? They were on along w/Florence Henderson and KISS.
No, I'm sorry I missed that. Since it was on Friday night, I was probably at the football game. But I do see that it's on YouTube. I'll have to check it out. Thanks.
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special was considered lost for many years; it was rediscovered, remastered, and is now on DVD.
denny musicman37 4 days ago
It was on Amazon Prime video as well.
Mike 5 days ago
Am I the only one who remembers when Billie Hayes when she was on General Hospital?
This was back in the early '80s, when the Cassidines showed up to make trouble for Port Charles.
GH introduced Robert Scorpio, then of the World Security Bureau, who came in to save everybody's bacon - and stayed around for years afterward, but that's another story ...
Scorpio answered to a sweet-looking little old lady named O'Riley, who was tougher than most of the male leads on the show.
That was Billie Hayes, wearing the least amount of makeup in her whole career - looking pretty much like her real self, and stealing the show from Tristan Rogers every time.
The General Hospital producers made one of their biggest mistakes when they killed off Agent O'Riley, way too soon (a year or so later, they brought back Billie Hayes for a flashback, but the damage was done...)

Anyway, if you check out GH clips from the '80s on YouTube, you might get a glimpse of what Billie Hayes really looked like - and if you do, be prepared for a surprise ...
MrsPhilHarris Mike 5 days ago
I know someone that used to watch GH back then. I bet she remembers.
KMT6600 5 days ago
I remember all the shows grew up with them all
stephaniestavr5 5 days ago
R.I.P. Billie Hayes from a fellow Illinoisan!
Witchie Poo boarded her vroom broom for her castle on Living Island to continue to torment, tease and terrify her hench spider and rat Seymore and Orson.
The folks in Lidsville are having a welcoming party for Weenie Genie, Party Hat being the hostess with the mostess, is throwing this shindig. They were all flipping their lids to welcome her!
Welcoming her, Witchie Poo and Billie, to heaven I mean.
Jeremy 5 days ago
The moment I saw Witchiepoo's photo on this website, I said, "Don't tell me she's dead!"
stephaniestavr5 Jeremy 5 days ago
Okay, I won't tell you!
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