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Agnes Moorehead

Agnes Moorehead

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Also Known As: Died: April 30, 1974
Born: December 6, 1900 Cause of Death: lung cancer
Birth Place: Clinton, Massachusetts, USA Profession: actor, teacher

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

She made her reputation in Hollywood playing heartless characters whose faces were frozen in masks of thin-lipped venality, but Agnes Moorehead received her start with comic roles on radio that emphasized her bottomless versatility. After being hired to provide the voice of sidekick Margo Lane to Orson Welles' "The Shadow," the actress joined the ensemble of Welles' fledgling Mercury Theatre on the Air. Together the pair transitioned from New York to Hollywood for "Citizen Kane" (1941), Welles' innovative feature film debut. Moorehead's tightly-coiled turn as the young Kane's cruelly pragmatic mother stamped the template for many of her subsequent film roles: the callous guardian of the young "Jane Eyre" (1943), the distant and disapproving aunt of traumatized "Johnny Belinda" (1948), and the unrepentant murderess who frames Humphrey Bogart in "Dark Passage" (1947) and dares him to prove it. Moorehead excelled in sympathetic roles as well, playing a reform-minded prison warden in "Caged" (1950) and Jayne Wyman's protector in "Magnificent Obsession" (1954), but her comic talents went largely untested until she was picked to play Endora, the witchy mother of suburban sorceress Elizabeth Montgomery on...

She made her reputation in Hollywood playing heartless characters whose faces were frozen in masks of thin-lipped venality, but Agnes Moorehead received her start with comic roles on radio that emphasized her bottomless versatility. After being hired to provide the voice of sidekick Margo Lane to Orson Welles' "The Shadow," the actress joined the ensemble of Welles' fledgling Mercury Theatre on the Air. Together the pair transitioned from New York to Hollywood for "Citizen Kane" (1941), Welles' innovative feature film debut. Moorehead's tightly-coiled turn as the young Kane's cruelly pragmatic mother stamped the template for many of her subsequent film roles: the callous guardian of the young "Jane Eyre" (1943), the distant and disapproving aunt of traumatized "Johnny Belinda" (1948), and the unrepentant murderess who frames Humphrey Bogart in "Dark Passage" (1947) and dares him to prove it. Moorehead excelled in sympathetic roles as well, playing a reform-minded prison warden in "Caged" (1950) and Jayne Wyman's protector in "Magnificent Obsession" (1954), but her comic talents went largely untested until she was picked to play Endora, the witchy mother of suburban sorceress Elizabeth Montgomery on the long-running ABC sitcom "Bewitched" (1964-1972). Active in films, television, and radio, Moorehead weathered two failed marriages and a stab at adoptive motherhood before settling into eccentric solitude. Her death from cancer in 1974 halted a diverse career while immortalizing Moorehead in the pantheon of American pop culture icons.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Charlotte's Web (1973) Voice
2.
 Dear Dead Delilah (1972) Delilah [Charles]
3.
 Rolling Man (1972) Grandma
4.
 Night of Terror (1972) Bronsky
5.
 Suddenly Single (1971) Marlene
6.
 What's the Matter with Helen? (1971) Sister Alma
7.
 Marriage: Year One (1971) Grandma Duden
8.
 The Singing Nun (1965) Sister Cluny
9.
 Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) Velma Cruther
10.
 How the West Was Won (1963) Rebecca Prescott
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1917:
Appeared with Municipal Opera Company in St. Louis, Missouri
1923:
Radio debut, singing in St. Louis
1929:
Broadway debut, "Scarlet Pages"
:
Toured in vaudeville with Phil Baker
1938:
Joined Orson Welles' "Mercury Theater of the Air"
1941:
Film debut in Welles' "Citizen Kane"
1942:
Had one of her best screen roles in Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons"; won first of four Oscar nominations as Best Supporting Actress
1953:
TV debut, on "Revlon Mirror Theater" (NBC & CBS)
:
Series debut, in "My Sister Eileen" (CBS)
1964:
Won fourth Oscar nomination for Supporting Actress for "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte"
:
Co-starred in hit sitcom "Bewitched" (ABC)
1973:
Last film, "Charlotte's Web" (voice only)
1973:
Made final Broadway appearance in "Gigi" as Madame Alvarez
1974:
Last TV appearance, "Rex Harrison Presents Short Stories of Love" (NBC)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Muskingum College: New Concord , Ohio -
University of Wisconsin: -
Bradley University: Peoria , Illinois -
American Academy of Dramatic Arts: New York , New York -

Notes

Although most sources list Moorehead's birth date as 1906, her stage career and the book "Die Showbusiness Enzyklopadie" by Honig and Rodek indicate 1900.

Moorehead is one of the many cast and crew members who were rumored to have contracted cancer while filming "The Conquerer" near an atomic test site. Other alleged victims included director Dick Powell and co-stars John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Pedro Armendariz.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
John Griffith Lee. Actor. Married 1930, divorced 1952.
husband:
Robert Gist. Actor, director. Married 1953, divorced 1958.

Family close complete family listing

son:
Sean Lee.

Contributions

Stephenray ( 2007-05-08 )

Source: see contribution

Agnes Moorehead actually never played Lady MacBeth, although Orson Welles had wanted her to.* The role she played on Broadway in "Gigi" (Aunt Alicia) was orginally played on film by Isobel Jeans, not Hermione Gingold's role.
* "Agnes' contract with MGM and Warner Brothers as well as her radio work - which was extensive, kept her from accepting McBeth, in the pivotal role of Lady McBeth." - Charles Transberg "'I Love The Illusion' The Life and Career of Agnes Moorehead"

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