Monday, December 6, 2010
BORN ON THIS DAY: AGNES MOOREHEAD
Agnes Robertson Moorehead (born December 6, 1900) began with the Mercury Theatre, appeared in more than seventy films beginning with Citizen Kane and on dozens of television shows during a career that spanned more than thirty years, Moorehead is most widely known to modern audiences for her role as the witch Endora in the series Bewitched.
While rarely playing leads in films, Moorehead's skill at character development and range earned her one Emmy Award and two Golden Globe awards in addition to four Academy Award and six Emmy Award nominations. Moorehead's transition to television won acclaim for drama and comedy. She could play many different types, but often portrayed haughty, arrogant characters.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Moorehead was one of the most in demand actresses for radio dramas, especially on the CBS show Suspense. During the 946 episodes run of Suspense, Moorehead was cast in more episodes than any other actor or actress. She was often introduced on the show as the "first lady of Suspense". Moorehead's most successful appearance on Suspense was in the legendary play Sorry, Wrong Number, written by Lucille Fletcher, broadcast on May 18, 1943. Moorehead played a selfish, neurotic woman who overhears a murder being plotted via crossed phone wires who eventually realizes she is the intended victim. She recreated the performance six times for Suspense and several times on other radio shows, always using her original, dog-eared script. In 1952, she recorded an album of the drama, and performed scenes from the story in her one-woman show in the 1950s. (Barbara Stanwyck played the role in the 1948 film version.)
Moorehead died of uterine cancer at the age of seventy-three in Rochester, Minnesota in 1974. She appeared in the 1956 movie The Conqueror, which was shot downwind from a nuclear test site and was one of over 90 cast and crew members to contract cancer out of the 220 who worked on the picture. She is entombed at Dayton Memorial Park in Dayton, Ohio.