Charles Hyatt was a famous Jamaican actor, playwright, director, author and broadcaster, born on the 14th of February 1931 in Kingston, Jamaica the son of Herbert Hyatt, taxi-driver, and Ruth Burke, home-maker, and was educated at St Alloysious Boys’ School and St Simon’s College he died on the 1st of January 2007 in Florida after suffering from liver cancer.
Hyatt appeared in numerous roles in plays and revues, including the dames in nine consecutive annual Little Theatre Movement (LTM) pantomimes, and also emerged as an outstanding stand-up comedian. He was introduced to radio theatre in the late 1950s, and made his debut as co-host of an early morning chat show on JBC (Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation) Radio when the Corporation began transmission in June 1959.
He has written radio series such as “Here comes Charley” and “When me was a boy”. The latter was published by the Institute of Jamaica Publications. He left Jamaica for England on a British Council bursary to study at the Theatre Royal in Windsor, England. He stayed in England for 14 years. During that time, he acted on radio, television, films and on the stage.
On his return to Jamaica in 1974, Hyatt rejoined JBC and became head of the Department of Drama. There he wrote, produced and directed a number of full-length plays for radio Jesus Christ, Dem Kill Son-Son, Santa Fari and Curly Locks and the Seven DJs. For a short while he was editor of the Arts and Entertainment section of The Jamaica Herald.
He performed in 17 national pantomimes, numerous films, stage productions and a series of radio dramas to become one of Jamaica’s most revered actors. Local productions include “Arawak Gold”, “Bedward”, “School’s out”, “Two Can Play” and “Miss Unusual” among others.
He has also appeared in movies with James Bond and Sammy Davis Jr., and in British productions such as Crown Court. He received the Silver Musgrave medal and the Order of Distinction for his contribution to theatre, as well as several Actor Boy awards for best actor.
Hyatt also compiled stories of his boyhood in a book entitled When me was a Boy and released four recorded albums of his work, the last being The Perils of Charley in May 2003. Among the movies Hyatt acted in was ‘Cool Running’s. For the last several years of his life, Hyatt hosted the radio programme ‘It’s Charlie’s Time’ on Sunday nights.
The Charles Hyatt Foundation was also formed, a non-profit organization that provides a viable road for young people to take on the quest for self-actualization. The foundation’s mission is to support activities which will ensure the sustainable development of the youth by encouraging their creative energies.
Charles Hyatt was a man who was full of energy and life, he also lectured in theatre arts at the Edna Manley College of the Visual & Performing Arts. He derived his inspiration from the folkways of rural and inner-city Jamaica.
He had four children, and four grandchildren, a man who will always be remembered in theatre arts both locally and abroad.