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Agnes Moorehead ACTOR


Agnes Moorehead was born on December 06, 1900 in Massachusetts, to a family of Celtic ancestry.  Her father was a Presbyterian minister, and Agnes later claimed that her first public performance was reciting ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ in her father’s church at the age of three.

She was interested in role-playing at a very early age, and was encouraged by her mother, a singer, who would ask her, “Who are you today, Agnes?”  Her parents did not discourage her from becoming an actor, but her father did insist that she get a formal education, so after graduating from St. Louis’ Central High School in 1918 she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree, majoring in biology, from Muskingum College in Ohio.  It was at college that she began appearing in stage plays.  The family had moved from Massachusetts to Missouri, and relocated again to Wisconsin, where Agnes taught school for five years while she earned her master’s degree in English and public speaking.  From there she went on to post-graduate studies at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she graduated with honors in 1929.

When she could not find steady work as an actor at the beginning of her career, she worked in radio, and many times worked on several programs in a day.  She met actress Helen Hayes, who encouraged her to try movies, but roles were still rare and so she continued in radio.

By 1937 Agnes Moorehead had met Orson Welles and was a member of his Mercury Theatre Group.  She appeared in his radio production of “Julius Caesar” and also had a regular role in the radio serial “The Shadow”, and in his production “The War of the Worlds”.

When Welles moved to Hollywood and began working for RKO Studios, Agnes joined him and made her film debut playing Welles’ mother in “Citizen Kane” in 1941.  Orson Welles also directed her in “Journey into Fear” in 1943 and “The Magnificent Ambersons” in 1942.  Agnes Moorehead was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in “The Magnificent Ambersons”.

Having gained serious recognition, more parts were offered to Agnes Moorehead, and she had a role in “The Big Street” in 1942, with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball.  By the mid-1940’s she had joined MGM, with her contract including a clause allowing her to continue performing on radio.  In 1943 and 1944 she was well known for her character of Mrs. Mullet on Mutual Radio’s “The Adventures of Leonidas Witherall”.

Whether the part was small or large, and whether the character was a matron, or mother, or secretary, or spinster, Moorehead played them well, earning her even more offers.  She appeared in “Since You Went Away” (1944), “Dark Passage” (1947) and in 1951 in “Show Boat” when it was remade by MGM.

Due to her talent and distinctive style, Agnes was one of the most popular performers in radio dramas during the 1940’s and 1950’s, and appeared in more episodes than any other star on CBS’s “Suspense”.

One of her best known roles was of a woman who overhears a murder being plotted over the telephone who soon realizes she is to be the victim in “Sorry, Wrong Number” on Suspense.  Because of her many appearances on the program, she earned the nickname “the first lady of Suspense”.  Her performances inspired the writers of the CBS television show “The Twilight Zone” to write an episode specifically for her.  The episode, titled “The Invaders”, was broadcast on January 27, 1961.  There was no dialogue for her role, and the program was carried by her silent, but expressive performance.

Not content only to appear on radio and in films, she also continued to perform in Broadway productions like “Don Juan in Hell” in 1951-1952, and in “Lord Pengo” in 1962-1963, and on television as well.

She made guest appearances on “My Sister Eileen” on CBS in the 1960-61 season, in “Harrigan and Son” on ABC, starring Pat O’Brien, on “Channing” in 1963-64 for ABC, and on “Custer” in 1967, again on ABC.

1964 saw Agnes Moorehead appearing on the big screen in “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” with Bette Davis, and on television on the sitcom “Bewitched” as Endora from 1964 to 1972 starring Elizabeth Montgomery.  Although she was disenchanted with the writing and the part on “Bewitched”, it is the role for which she is perhaps most well remembered, and her contract did allow her time to pursue other projects.

She was a very religious person (Presbyterian), and in “What’s the Matter with Helen?” in 1971 (co-starring Debbie Reynolds) she played the role of an evangelist.

Agnes Moorehead continued to work up until the year she died, performing in two episodes of CBS Radio Mystery Theater in January of 1974.

Throughout her outstanding career, Agnes Moorehead won two Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture: in 1944 for her role in “Mrs. Parkington”; and in 1964 for her role in “Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte”.  She also received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series for her part in the February 10, 1967 episode of “The Wild, Wild West”, titled “The Night of the Vicious Valentine”.  In 1994, she was posthumously inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Agnes Robertson Moorehead died at the age of 73 on April 30, 1974 in Rochester, Minnesota.



1941    Citizen Kane

1942    The Magnificent Ambersons

1942    The Big Street

1943    Journey into Fear

1943    The Youngest Profession

1943    Government Girl

1944    Jane Eyre

1944    Since You Went Away

1944    Dragon Seed

1944    The Seventh Cross

1944    Mrs. Parkington

1944    Tomorrow, the World!

1945    Keep Your Powder Dry

1945    Her Highness and the Bellboy

1945    Our Vines Have Tender Grapes

1947    Dark Passage

1947    The Lost Moment

1948    Summer Holiday

1948    The Woman in White

1948    Station West

1948    Johnny Belinda

1949    The Stratton Story

1949    The Great Sinner

1949    Without Honor

1950    Black Jack

1950    Caged

1951    Fourteen Hours

1951    Adventures of Captain Fabian

1951    Show Boat

1951    The Blue Veil

1952    The Blazing Forest

1953    The Story of Three Loves

1953    Scandal at Scourie

1953    Main Street to Broadway

1953    Those Redheads from Seattle

1954    Magnificent Obsession

1955    Untamed

1955    The Left Hand of God

1955    All That Heaven Allows

1956    The Conqueror

1956    Meet Me in Las Vegas

1956    The Swan

1956    The Revolt of Mamie Stover

1956    Pardners

1956    The Opposite Sex

1957    The True Story of Jesse James

1957    Jeanne Eagels

1957    Raintree County

1957    The Story of Mankind

1958    Tempest

1959    Night of the Quarter Moon

1959    The Bat

1960    Pollyanna

1961    Twenty Plus Two

1961    Bachelor in Paradise

1962    Jessica

1962    How the West Was Won

1963    Who's Minding the Store?

1964    Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte

1966    The Singing Nun

1971    What's the Matter with Helen?

1972    Dear Dead Delilah

1973    Charlotte's Web

1973    Frankenstein: The True Story

Short Subjects:

1957    Operation Raintree

1958    Screen Snapshots: Salute to Hollywood

Matinee Classics - The Conqueror starring John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Pedro Armendariz, Agnes Moorehead, Thomas Gomez, John Hoyt, William Conrad, Ted de Corsia and Lee Van Cleef
Matinee Classics - Since You Went Away starring Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple, Monty Woolley,  Lionel Barrymore, Robert Walker, Hattie McDaniel, Agnes Moorehead, Nazimova, Albert Bassermann, Gordon Oliver, Keenan Wynn, Guy Madison, Craig Stevens, Lloyd Corrigan and Jackie Moran
Matinee Classics - Adventures of Captain Fabian starring Errol Flynn, Micheline Prelle, Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, Victor Francen, Jim Gerald, Helena Manson, Howard Vernon, Roger Blin, Valentine Camax, Georges Flateau, Zanie Campan and Reggie Nalder
Matinee Classics - Bewitched starring Elizabeth Montgomery, David White, Dick York, Dick Sargent and Agnes Moorehead
Matinee Classics - How the West Was Won starring John Wayne, James Stewart, Debbie Reynolds, Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Carol Baker, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Harry Morgan, Walter Brennan, Lee Van Cleef, Agnes Moorehead and Robert Preston
Matinee Classics - Agnes Moorehead
Matinee Classics - The Ballad of Andy Crocker starring Lee Majors, Joey Heatherton, Jimmy Dean, Marvin Gaye, Agnes Moorehead, Pat Hingle and Jill Haworth
Matinee Classics - Summer Holiday starring Mickey Rooney, Gloria DeHaven, Walter Huston, Frank Morgan, Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins, Marilyn Maxwell, Agnes Moorehead, Selena Royle, Michael Kirby, Shirley Johns, Hal Hackett, Anne Francis, John Alexander, Virginia Brissac and Howard Freeman
Matinee Classics - Agnes Moorehead received an Emmy in 1967, shown here with Robert Culp and Elizabeth Montgomery
Matinee Classics - Magnificent Obsession starring Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush, Agnes Moorehead, Otto Kruger, Gregg Palmer, Sara Shane, Paul Cavanagh, Judy Nugent, Richard H. Cutting, Robert Williams, Will J. White, Helen Kleeb, Rudolph Anders and Fred Nurney

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