For BBers of a certain age and cultural cohort, Billie Hayes was a regular Saturday morning fixture. With her witchy cackle and her goofy-evil attempts to get the magic flute and thwart the fun-loving H.R. Pufnstuf and Jimmie, Billie Hayes’ Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo brought a certain “something” to the Saturday morning psychedelia.
A Broadway veteran by the time she reached national fame as the flute-stealing nemesis to a psychedelic dragon, Hayes had starred as Mammy Yokum in both the Broadway and film versions of the popular late-1950s musical Lil’ Abner. She’d made her Broadway debut in New Faces of 1956 along with an ensemble that included actress Maggie Smith.
Following a couple of guest appearances on episodic TV in 1967 – including a Mammy Yokum-type matriarch in the “Hillbilly Honeymoon” episode of The Monkees – Hayes endeared herself to a generation of glued-to-the-tube Saturday morning viewers in 1969 as the eccentrically costumed, ever-cackling and always bumbling Witchiepoo (full name: Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo).
Here’s to you, Witchipoo!