Quiz 3 – Agnes Moorehead
October 10, 2013
If you've just checked our blog, we're playing a game on our Facebook “Media Heritage, Inc.” and “Big Broadcast” pages. If you'd like to play, “like” one or both of those Facebook pages and on Mondays, we'll post a photo of an old radio “second banana”…a secondary or character actor from the 1930s through ‘50s. You'll be instructed to email a guess as to the identity to our email and from the correct answers, we'll pick a winner for a prize each week on Wednesday night! Then check back here at the blog, later in the week, for the answer.
This week, our celebrity “second banana” is Agnes Moorehead….Agnes was born in 1900 in Massachusetts and she died in 1974 in Minnesota, however she's buried right up the road from Cincinnati in Dayton Memorial Park. She graduated from Muskingum College in Ohio with a degree in biology but wanted to try acting. She landed bit roles in early radio but couldn't initially break into films. In the late 1930s, she did, however, become friends with Orson Welles and in 1937 joined his Mercury Players, along with Joseph Cotten. Moorehead enjoyed Welles' rich radio plays and followed him to Hollywood when Welles started producing films for RKO. Agnes played the mother in Citizen Kane. During the 1940s and ‘50s, Moorehead had no trouble finding work in both film (for RKO and MGM) and on radio, where she appeared in a variety of “second banana” roles. There was one occasion where she received top billing…probably the most famous episode of Suspense with the story “Sorry, Wrong Number.” Moorehead was so convincing, Suspense producers had her reprise the role five additional times. It was quite the surprise that, when the story was made into a motion picture, the film role went to Barbara Stanwyck. When television came around, Moorehead remained popular and appeared in numerous anthologies and series but is best remembered for her role as Endora, Samantha's witch-mother on the popular Bewitched. In 1956, Agnes Moorehead was part of the cast of the film The Conqueror, which was filmed in Utah not far from a bomb testing site in Nevada. Eleven nuclear bombs were dropped in the area the year before and two of those were considered highly radioactive. Of the 200-plus cast and crew who worked on the film, nearly a third eventually developed cancer. Moorehead would also succumb to cancer—uterine cancer—just months before she would've turned 74.