AGNES MOOREHEAD (Endora)
Of Protestant Irish background, Agnes Robertson Moorehead was born on December 6, 1906, in Clinton, Massachusetts, the only child of Reverend John Henderson Moorehead, a minister. Her mother, Mary Mildred MacCauley, had been reared in rural Pennsylvania. Soon after the birth of Agnes, the Mooreheads moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where Mr. Moorehead had been assigned to a new pastorate.
At age ten, Agnes spent her summers performing in the theater and also worked with the St. Louis Municipal Opera Company for four years. After completing high school in 1919, she attended
Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, a coeducational institution founded by an uncle. Agnes majored in biology, performed in the glee club, and was an active member of the Girls Athletic Association and the Student Volunteer Group. After receiving her bachelor's degree, she remained at Muskingum for an additional year of postgraduate work, majoring in education, speech, and English. The following year she transferred to the University of\i\risconsin to be closer to home. There she earned her master's degree in English and public speaking, and later received a doctorate in literature horn Bradley University in Illinois.
While attending Wisconsin University, Moorehead began teaching English and public speaking in nearby Soldiers Grove and coached the local drama club. In 1926, she enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where she met John Griffith Lee, whom she married on June 6, 1930. Soon after, she began winning Broadway and radio roles. She became one of radio's mostactive performers and took part in programs like The March of Time, Cavalcade of America, and Mayor of the Town. One of her most notable performances was in the radio play, Sorry, Wrong Number.
Moorehead's radio comedy credits were The Fred Alien Show, The Phil Baker Show (in which she worked with Bewitched executive producer Harry Ackerman), and stints with Bob Hope and Jack Benny.
It was her longtime association with Orson Welles and his historic Mercury Theater Company in New York City where she received the most rigorous training, It was an ensemble with a theatrical hierarchy, including Welles and other acting greats such as Joseph Gotten, Everett Sloan, and (director) John Houseman.
In 1941, The Mercury Players made their first film, entitled Citizen Kane, in which Agnes made her screen debut (playing Kane's mother). Other movies with the Welles troupe: The Magnificent Ambersons (1942, in which she was Oscar-nominated for her role as Aunt Fanny), Journey Into Fear (1943), and Jane Eyre (1944).
Agnes was also nominated for an Academy Award for roles in Mrs. Parkington (1944), Johnny Belinda (1948), and Hush-Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964).
Her other films included Dark Passage (1947), The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956), and The Conquerer (1956), which was filmed in St. George, Utah.
This last motion picture was the subject of recent controversy.
Moorehead, Dick Powell, John Wayne, and Susan Hayward, all members of The Conqueror's cast, all died of cancer. Many claim their deaths were attributable to the film's location shooting which was close to a nuclear testing site. Tons of Utah's red oil was brought back to the studio sets for matching purposes.
Agnes Moorehead's numerous TV appearances include The Twilight Zone, Shirley Temple Theater, Studio One, Night Gallery (she played an old crone of a witch), and The Wild, Wild West. She won an Emmy for Wild, in which she played Emma Valentine in an episode entitled "Night of
the Vicious Valentine".
In the early 1950s, Agnes toured the United States and Europe in readings of Don Juan in Hell. Moorehead took many stage bows with the Mercury Players, but later, during the filming of Bewitched, toured the country with her one-woman show, An Evening with the Fabulous Red Head.
Her favorite color, however, was lavender.
She was nicknamed "The Lavender Lady" by one of the maids at her Beverly Hills home. She adored the color purple, drove a lavender 1956 Thunderbird, and decorated both her mansion and Bewitched dressing rooms in her pet hue.
Of course, she also appeared frequently in purple as Endora.
* Biography from "Bewitched Forever" by Herbie J. Pilato
Miss Moorehead passed on in 1974
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