It all started with a skit during recess.
In the first grade, Dennis Hayden was a bit tall for his age and his teachers encouraged him to play inside and do alternative activities — that’s when he got his hands on skits.
At the time he was going to a Catholic school located in a rural area near Greenbush. Dennis put on the skits for the nuns at his school, later he starred in one of the school’s first plays. He was also an altar boy, which was sort of like acting, having cues and speaking parts, he said.
His childhood was a bit turbulent, his father was a veteran who had PTSD and drank heavily, and his family didn’t have much money. However, he and his brothers were kept entertained and busy through a television they found and by farm life.
Dennis watched his very first show on a television his brother found from the dump and fixed. He was watching “Whirlybirds” with his brothers when one of his brothers “mentioned people make a living at that.” That’s when it all “clicked” for Dennis.
The skits, being an altar boy and a passion to “make a living” led him down the path of the entertainment industry.
Growing up to a towering 6 foot 4 inches, he made his way into show business.
It wasn’t in his immediate plans to become an actor. He used many of the skills from working on his family’s small farm to begin working in the field of construction in Indianapolis.
Eager to get onto the big screen, he eventually moved to California.
In the “Golden State,” Dennis used his construction skills — his framing work particularly — to make money.
“I checked it out [opportunities], still worked construction around the country and every chance I would go back out and, finally, I just stayed,” he said.
Consequently, he also volunteered to construct sets for plays. He was then asked to be one of the characters in a play, “I stood out at 6 foot 4, and 220 pounds,” he said.
Dennis was offered a lead part as Bo in the play, “Bus Stop.” From there, he was offered jobs for television, commercials and movies.
Over the years he managed to be in over 50 television shows and film. He went across the world, Budapest, the Philippines and more.
“I went to places I probably never would have went to,” Dennis said.
After he’d had enough of California traffic, Dennis moved back home to southeast Kansas last December, where he now lives on a ranch outside of Girard. He continues to take gigs as of today. Recently, he has been in the Old Spice Commercial 2017: Von Miller Coach Talk.
He is also still interviewed by entertainment news and blogs, where they often ask about his role as Hans Gruber’s henchman, Eddie, in the action/thriller 1988 film “Die Hard.” People writing books about “Die Hard” and top movie “bad guys” have mentioned him in chapters.
Dennis said he knew the movie was going to be great, however, he didn’t know it was going to at one point become the “number one Christmas movie of all time.” The movie was also listed in the national archives in the Library of Congress.
“As an actor, it doesn’t get any better than this,” he said of being part of the film. “I feel very fortunate.”
For its 30-year anniversary “Die Hard” is coming out on the big screen again on Nov. 10 and Nov. 15 through Turner Classic Movies in selected theaters. Dennis said Pittsburg's movie theater is not running the movie, however there are a few in Kansas City area that are.
He said being on television and film has been fun experience.
“I like doing it, it’s a lot of fun and it’s a pain to get there … but once you get there and they go ‘action’ it becomes a whole, euphoric-type thing,” Dennis said.
Dennis applauded local theatres and their efforts to bring to stage current and future actors.
He said theatre is good for communication and confidence building.
When Dennis isn’t away from home filming, he can be found working on his ranch.
“I’m still the carpenter,” he said. “I just wanted to do film, do television, do theatre.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. To nominate someone for Patrick's People send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
PATRICK'S PEOPLE — Dennis Hayden back in southeast Kansas
It all started with a skit during recess.