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James Hayden

James Hayden
Hayden as Patrick 'Patsy' Goldberg in the film Once Upon a Time in America, 1984
Personal information
Birth dateNovember 25, 1953
Place of birthBrooklyn, New York, U.S.
Date of deathNovember 8, 1983(age 29)
Death placeNew York City, New York, U.S.

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James Hayden (November 25, 1953 November 8, 1983) was a young, handsome American actor from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with a very promising career ahead of him. Apart from starring on Broadway, he is perhaps best known for playing Patrick 'Patsy' Goldberg in the 1984 film Once Upon a Time in America. He also played the role of the nice, shy, and gentle "Harry Colman" in the 1981 TV film, The Intruder Within. According to the touching testimonies of his family and friends, he is as dearly missed as he was, and still is, dearly loved by those who knew him personally. And according to comments of his devoted fans, Hayden is a star whose light has gone out much too soon.

Hayden trained and served as a medic in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. Upon his discharge he returned to New York and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and began working as an actor.

In 1983, the year of his untimely death, he portrayed a heroin addict in the critically acclaimed play American Buffalo, co-starring with his close friend Al Pacino. Ironically, Hayden tragically died of a supposedly self-induced heroin overdose telephoning his wife, Barbara Daniels, who had pleaded with him to get help with his condition, and then had left him. It appears that Hayden, who by accounts was an extraordinarily sensitive and good-hearted young man, called his wife wanting very much to get back together

In 1984, during the making of The pope of Greenwich Village, Mickey Rourke dedicated his performance to the memory of James Hayden.

His Funeral Mass, attended by some 300 family and friends, was celebrated by the Rev. Father James Michael, a friend since boyhood, at St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church, Woodside, Queens, New York City. Hayden's sister, Frances, broke in tears as she read the epistle at Mass. In his homily, Father Michael mentioned that he had been counseling Hayden weekly for the previous year, and that "Our hearts have been ripped out and it hurts like hell. But Jimmy has only gone through a transition. He is with God."

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