Family & Companions
A cherubic boy with pronounced dimples, Dickie Moore was a prolific child actor in features from the late 1920s through the 1950s in such films as "Blonde Venus" (1932), "Sergeant York" (1941) and "Heaven Can Wait" (1943) among his hundred-plus titles. Moore hit his stride at age seven, when he appeared in over 20 films, including "Oliver Twist" (1932), for which he played the title role, and numerous "Our Gang" shorts. Like many juvenile actors, his career slowed as he reached his teenaged years, though there were occasional choice parts, like the courageous "Kid" in "Out of the Past" (1947). He also co-produced and starred in an Oscar-nominated short film, "The Boy and the Eagle" (1949), but by the 1950s, he had abandoned acting for public relations, which kept him active for several decades. Moore's long, successful and turmoil-free life stood in stark contrast to the countless stories of child actors whose lives crumbled into disarray after their stars had dimmed.
Born John Richard Moore, Jr. on Sept. 12, 1925 in Los Angeles, he made his screen debut at 11 months as the infant Francois Villon in 1927's "The Beloved Rogue," a historical adventure vehicle for John Barrymore. Numerous uncredited turns as juveniles in backgrounds followed before he began working his way up to featured player in the early 1930s. He endured the rough treatment that was part and parcel of being a child actor in the industry at that time - Moore was nearly beaten by Cecil B. De Mille after sassing the director on the set of "The Squaw Man" (1932) - and methodically worked his way into the American moviegoers' consciousness by virtue of countless screen appearances. In 1932 alone, he appeared in over 20 films, including "Blonde Venus" as Marlene Dietrich's son, and a year's worth of appearances in Hal Roach Studio's "Our Gang" series of shorts. The following year, Moore graduated to lead in Monogram's low-budget adaptation of "Oliver Twist" (1933), which launched his star status in earnest, giving his "Our Gang" co-star Jackie Cooper - then the biggest male child star of the moment - a serious run for his money.
Moore's breathless schedule continued throughout the 1930s, encompassing everything from A-list pictures like "The Story of Louis Pasteur" (1935) and "The Life of Emile Zola" (1937), both starring Paul Muni, to weepy programmers like "My Bill" (1938), in which his faithful son rewarded widowed and perpetually put-upon mother Kay Francis with a windfall inheritance. By the end of the decade, however, Moore's star was on the wane. He amassed a handful of appearances in quality films at the dawn of the 1940s, most notably in "Sergeant York" (1941) as Gary Cooper's young brother, and Ernst Lubitsch's "Heaven Can Wait" (1943) as the spoiled teenaged version of Don Ameche's penitent spendthrift. Moore also entered into the history books as the first actor to kiss Shirley Temple onscreen in "Miss Annie Young" (1942).
During World War II, Moore served in the military and attended college, eventually graduating with a degree in journalism. He enjoyed a few more plum roles in the 1940s, most notably as The Kid, who saves Robert Mitchum's skin from a ruthless killer in the noir classic "Out of the Past" (1947). Two years later, he earned an Oscar nomination as producer and star of "The Boy and the Eagle" (1949), a live-action short about a handicapped boy who developed a relationship with a wounded bird. Moore's movie roles soon petered out, and he moved to television and serials like "Cody of the Pony Express" (1950), which cast him as a teenaged Buffalo Bill Cody. His final screen credit came as Civil War General J.E.B. Stuart in an episode of the anthology series "Omnibus" (CBS/NBC, 1952-1961) in 1957. He was 32 at the time, and had been in 100 features over the course of three decades.
Unlike many of his peers and subsequent child actors, Moore was able to flourish in his post-stardom years. He became part of Actors Equity and edited their in-house magazine before joining their public relations department. In 1964, he formed his own public relations firm, Dick Moore Associates, and later produced industrial films. In 1984, he conducted a series of interviews with former child actors for a book titled Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (But Don't Have Sex or Take the Car). To his surprise, over half of his subjects had struggled with serious issues in their adult years, including alcoholism and emotional issues. One of the few interviewees who had survived her time in Hollywood relatively unscathed was Jane Powell, whom he married in 1988. The couple remained active in New York theater well into their eighth decades.
Cast (Feature Film)
Made screen debut at 11 months as the infant Francois Villon in "The Beloved Rogue"
Became a member of The Little Rascals as 'Dickie'
Appeared in over 20 films including "Blonde Venus" and "Deception"
Played the title character in "Oliver Twist"
First film with Paul Muni, "The Story of Louis Pasteur"
Again acted with Muni in "The Life of Emile Zola"
Cast as Gary Cooper¿s young brother in "Sergeant York"
Became first actor to kiss Shirley Temple onscreen in "Miss Annie Rooney"
Produced and starred in Oscar-nominated short "Boy and the Eagle"
Final screen credit, as Civil War General J.E.B. Stuart on an episode of CBS/NBC anthology series "Omnibus"
Formed his own public relations firm Dick Moore Associates
Published the book Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (But Don¿t Have Sex or Take the Car)
Appeared in documentary "Shirley Temple: America's Little Darling"