Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Agnes Moorehead

Before she was Endora on Bewitched (1964-1972) Anges Moorehead graced the silver screen.

The four time Academy Award nominee was born Agnes Robertson Moorehead on December 6, 1900 in Clinton, Massachusetts. Her father John Henderson Moorehead was a Presbyterian clergyman and her mother, Mildred McCauley, was a singer.

When the family moved to St. Louis, Agnes joined the chorus of the St. Louis Municipal Opera Company. Later, the family relocated to Ohio.

Agnes Moorehead earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Muskingum College in Ohio. While there she also appeared in a number of college stage plays. She later received an honorary doctorate in literature from Muskingum and served for a year on its board of trustees. When her family moved to Wisconsin, she taught public school for five years. While in Wisconsin, she earned a master's degree in English and public speaking from the University of Wisconsin. She then pursued post-graduate studies at the American Acadmey of Dramatic Arts, graduating with honors in 1929.

Agnes Moorehead met Orson Welles and by 1937 was a member of his Mercury Theatre Group along with Joseph Cotton. She appeared in his radio production of Julius Casear and had a regular role in the serial The Shadow. She was also one of the players in his The War of the Worlds production.

In 1939, Welles moved the Mercury Theatre Group to Hollywood, where he started working for RKO Studios. Several of his radio performers joined him, and Moorehead made her film debut as his mother in Citizen Kane (1941). She also appeared in his films Journey into Fear (1943) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942).

Agnes Moorehead was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performances in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), Johnny Belinda (1948), Mrs. Parkington (1944), and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942).

Agnes Moorehead's other notable films include How The West Was Won (1962), Raintree County (1957), The Conqueror (1956), Magnificent Obsession (1954), Show Boat (1951), Fourteen Hours (1951), Dark Passage (1947), and The Big Street (1942).

In fact, she was the first female to co-host the Academy Awards in 1948.

Agnes never played a leading lady but her skill as a character actor earned her one Emmy Award, two Golden Globe awards and four Academy Award nominations and six Emmy Award nominations.

Agnes Moorehead skillfully portrayed puritanical matrons, neurotic spinsters, possessive mothers, and comical secretaries throughout her career.

Agnes Moorehead passed away on April 30, 1974 from uterine cancer.

1 comment: