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Charles Hyatt will long be remembered as one of Jamaica’s most celebrated and multi-talented actor/comedians who made a successful transition to film, radio and television.
Charles Hyatt was a natural humorist. He evoked laughter and reflection in equal measure. Whether on stage, in print, on screen or on radio, Charlie provided a picture window into Jamaican life in the days that he himself described as “When Me Was A Boy.” In a career that spanned over five decades, Charlie performed a diverse range of roles in Pantomimes, local and international film productions and screenplays. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, he spent fourteen years in residence in England, where he achieved critical acclaim on British television for his roles in such programmes as Crown Court, Six Bites of the Cherry and Blood Knot, before returning home.
Among the more memorable films in which he appeared were The Bushbaby, The Mighty Quinn, Milk and Honey, A High Wind in Jamaica, Club Paradise, Almost Heaven and Cool Runnings. He excelled on stage in numerous LTM Pantomimes as well as in such Trevor Rhone plays as Old Story Time and Two Can Play. In more recent times he could be seen on stage in Basil Dawkins’ Forbidden and Patrick Brown’s Dirty Diana among others, performing alongside a new generation of actors.
As a writer Charles Hyatt produced several scripts for radio, screen and stage, including the Here Comes Charlie series on radio and the Anancy series for television. He served as Head of the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation’s Drama Department for several years and taught part-time at the UWI’s CARIMAC, as well as at the CPTC. His programmes and reminiscences on Radio were a pleasure to listen to, and generated an enthusiastic, interactive audience.
Charles Hyatt was always concerned about maintaining high standards of performance in theatre and media. His keen interest in the creation, preservation and marketing of our cultural heritage at home and abroad was reflected in his own outstanding international career.
During the 2003 visit to Jamaica of his contemporary performer, the Hon Louise Bennett Coverley, Charlie was invited by the CPTC to join her and several other leading actors for the production of what turned out to be her final edition of the acclaimed children’s television programme Ring Ding Again, in the studios of the CPTC. He performed the role of Maas Charlie with skill, seamlessly accompanying Miss Lou and Marjorie Whylie in regaling the children with fun and laughter.
Charles now joins Miss Lou, Maas Ran, Maas Eric and many others in the great theatre beyond.
His passing so soon after another of Jamaica’s broadcasting icons, Neville Willoughby, is yet another blow that leaves the media, entertainment and performing industries severely diminished and the poorer for their absence. Their legacy, however, epitomized by Charles’s creativity, hard work and dedication to his craft, will live on.
His passing saddens the CPTC, the cultural industries fraternity and indeed the whole country, even as we enter a new year. But we are the beneficiaries of over half a century of his outstanding contribution to the arts, culture and entertainment in Jamaica. Our profound condolences go to his family at this time of sadness.