Charles Hyatt I: The Life of a Legend

Charles Hyatt I: The Life of a Legend


28 years after the Jamaican based classic “Cool Runnings”, Jamaica is heading to the Winter Olympics to represent the country in the Bobsled competition. One of the standout characters was Whitby Bevil Sr, also known as Charles Hyatt I.

Cool Runnings Clip
A clip from Cool Runnings with Charles Hyatt and Rawle D. Lewis.

This was Charles Hyatt’s opening and memorable scene in the Bobsleigh movie depicting the journey of Jamaica’s first team to the winter Olympics.

Reflection by Owen “Blakka” Ellis

Today we celebrate the life and legacy of the legend Charles Hyatt the first. Born February 14, 1931, in Kingston, Jamaica, to parents Ruth Burke and Herbert Hyatt, it was evident that Charles was destined for greatness. He had a passion for the arts and appeared in numerous plays, including the dames in nine consecutive annual little theatre pantomimes. He also exercised his comedic prowess and emerged as an outstanding standup comedian. For others, this would be the end of their creative journey, but for Charles, this was the mere beginning. Accordingly, the early years of his life on radio included cohosting an early morning chat show on the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) in the late 1950s.

Reflection by Noval Banes

Knowing he could give more to radio, he wrote many radio dramas incorporated into his shows like the popular “Here comes Charley”.  He also incorporated drama in the music-oriented programmes he had on radio. His last radio shows included his world-renowned historical story series about his life, “When me was a boy”.

Charles Hyatt I

Life in England

Mr Hyatt was gifted a British Council bursary to study at the Theatre Royal in Windsor, England. As a result, he resided in England for 14 years. In that time, he exercised his acting skills on television, radio, films and onstage.

Upon returning to Jamaica in 1974, he picked up right where he left off, rejoining JBC, where he became head of the Department of Drama. He penned, produced and directed countless plays and occupied the role of editor of Arts and the Entertainment section of the Jamaica Herald.

Charles Hyatt found his passion and ensured he didn’t fall short of fulfilling his purpose. For this purpose, he enjoyed what he did, and enjoyed seeing others flourish in the arts. Mr Hyatt performed in over 17 national pantomimes, stage productions and countless films.

Charles Hyatt I and Denzel Washington in The Mighty Quinn

Film Appearances

Reflection by Marcus Bird

Notable films he appeared in were, A High Wind Jamaica, Crossplot, Freelance, Love Thy Neighbour, Milk and Honey, The Mighty Quinn and the classic Cool Runnings, to name a few.

Mr Hyatt’s creativity did not stop there. Impressively, he released four recorded albums and published a book of his childhood stories entitled “When me was a Boy”.

Additionally, Charlie took pride in being an educator. He lectured Theatre Arts at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing arts. There he inspired creativity and imparted his wealth of knowledge to eager students.

Curtain Call for Charles Hyatt I

Reflection by Andrea King Bird

Uncle Charlie had talent and wisdom, which he shared with anyone who listened. Not surprisingly, his aura demanded attention, and his smile warmed hearts. However, on January 1, 2007, Uncle Charlie took his talent to the divine, everlasting stage.  His work and personality left an indelible mark on all our hearts. He left behind his wife and many children.

Today on his 91st birth anniversary, we celebrate a stalwart and icon. Happy birthday Uncle Charlie.

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