AGNES MOOREHEAD Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Agnes Robertson Moorehead was born in Clinton, Massachussetts (just             
outside of Boston) on December 6, 1900* to Dr. and Mrs. John H. Moorehead.       
Her father was a Presbytarian minister, and transferred several times           
while Agnes was in school.                                                       
Agnes first appeared on stage when she was three years old. By the time         
she was 12, she had joined the St. Louis Municipal Opera as a dancer and a       
singer. During her childhood years, Agnes's parents encouraged her               
interest in acting, often encouraging her desire to remain in character         
for entire days. She loved to imitate people, and would often get into the       
role of a neighbor or a member of her father's congregation while saying         
her evening prayers. She attended school for a few years in Hamilton, OH         
before her father was transferred to St. Louis, MO. This is where she           
graduated from Central High School in 1918. Her father was transferred to       
Reedsburg, WI in 1919 after Agnes graduated from high school.                   
Agnes Moorehead as a Child                                                       
Agnes attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, where she majored         
in biology, yet she continued to perform in school plays and in the glee         
club. After earning her degree, she went on to the University of Wisconsin       
to be closer to her family in Reedsburg, WI. There she earned her Masters       
in English and public speaking. Later, she took her savings from various         
stage work and teaching jobs to enroll in the American Academy of Dramatic       
Arts in New York. Here, she began her long and lustrous career in radio.         
Agnes would eventually perform in as many as six shows per day, and during       
this period she met the acclaimed actor, director, writer and producer,         
Orson Welles. They, along with Joseph Cotton, would form the renowned           
Mercury Players, which gave such fine performances as Abraham Lincoln,           
Jane Eyre, Treasure Island, and Julius Caesar, among others.                     
Agnes Moorehead in the 1940s                                                     
Orson Welles and Agnes' collaboration in radio soon turned into                 
collaboration on film. When Welles decided to make a go at it in                 
Hollywood, he remembered Agnes's talent and sent for her to debut in his         
masterpiece, Citizen Kane, as Kane's mother. Agnes also appeared in             
Welles' Magnificent Amberson's, Jane Eyre, and Journey Into Fear. Welles         
once said of Agnes, "Give the role to Agnes, she can play anything."             
Agnes in a Publicity Still                                                       
This statement proved to be true throughout her career as she played             
numerous and diverse supporting roles in some of the best movies of the         
era. A self-proclaimed "character actress," Agnes played roles ranging           
from a slatternly old maid to a royal queen to a jet-set drug dealer, each       
with the same aplomb and talent as the next. As a result, Agnes received         
numerous awards for her roles and was nominated for five Academy Awards         
during her tenure. She continued to work in radio throughout her career,         
and received many accolades in this medium as well. She was involved in         
two of the most famous and well-received radio shows of all time, Sorry         
Wrong Number, which earned her the Golden Mike Award, as well as a Golden       
Record, and War of the Worlds, another Welles venture.                           
Agnes in a Royal Portrait                                                       
In 1950, Agnes joined Charles Boyer, Charles Laughton, and Sir Cedric           
Hardwicke in Paul Gregory's stage production of Shaw's Don Juan In Hell.         
The production proved highly successful, and the group, billing themselves       
as The First Drama Quartette, performed in the United States, as well as         
England to sold- out audiences. Later in Agnes' career, she would direct         
another production of the play, as well as reprise her role as Dona Ana in       
a third production.                                                             
Agnes with Charles Boyer                                                         
Agnes began to use television to showcase her craft in the early 1950s. An       
Emmy Award winner for her performance in the "Night of the Vicious               
Valentine" episode of Wild Wild West, she appeared in numerous top rated         
shows throughout her career in television. She is perhaps best known for         
her role as the elegant, meddling mother-in-law on Bewitched. Agnes had         
appeared in countless television comedies, dramas, variety shows, and           
specials, but was hesitant to commit to a regular starring role in a             
series. Elizabeth Montgomery, the star of the show, and the wife of the         
director, approached Agnes in a department store to play the role of             
Endora because she thought she would be just perfect for the part. She was       
right. Agnes agreed to do the pilot, thinking that such a bizarre premise       
for the show wouldn't sell, but a month after the pilot aired, she got a         
call from the producer. The show did indeed sell, forcing Agnes to cancel       
her popular one-woman show (The Fabulous Redhead) in order to do the             
series. She had the foresight to put into her contract that she would only       
appear in eight out of twelve episodes, in order for her to be free to           
pursue other acting jobs, and she had no regrets about her decision to do       
the series.                                                                     
Agnes with Eve Arden on Bewitched                                               
Agnes and Foster Son Sean circa 1964                                             
Agnes Robertson Moorehead died on April 30, 1974, just two years after           
Bewitched had ceased production. It is widely believed that the cancer she       
contracted was a result of working on The Conqueror in 1956, which was           
filmed near an atomic test site in Utah. In the 25 years since her death,       
people have been entertained by her legacy in film, radio, television, and       
recordings, thanks to television's Nick at Nite, Turner Classic Movies,         
and other outlets. She was known as an extraordinary talent, a respectable       
actress, a devout Christian, a wonderful friend, and, taking the name from       
her enormously successful one-woman show, she was truly a "Fabulous