Saturday, May 25, 2024

Agnes Moorehead

"I've been in movies and played theater from coast to coast , so I was quite well known before Bewitched and I don't particularly want to be identified as a witch."

Agnes Robertson Moorehead was born in Clinton, Massachusetts on December 6, 1900.  She was the daughter of a Presbyterian clergyman and knew from an early age that she wanted to be an actress.  In later years, she would often state that her first public appearance was reading the Lord's prayer in her father's church when she was just three years old.

She attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in biology before moving to New York.  There, in 1922, she met Orson Welles, beginning a friendship and acting collaboration that would continue for half a century.  Ultimately, her first acting role was in his 1941 classic Citizen Kane, in which she played his mother.  Here's a clip.

Radio and the stage would follow, but she'd truly make her mark on television.  In 1961, she appeared in an episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "The Invaders," a one-person play in which she has not a single line of dialogue.  It holds up today as a fan-favorite episode and is often cited as one of the series' best entries.  Check out a clip on YouTube.

However, it is her role on Bewitched for which she is most famously known, that of Endora, a witch more than 4,000 years old.  Endora was the mother of Samantha, played by series star Elizabeth Montgomery, and mother-in-law and constant irritant to Darrin, played by Dick York and later, Dick Sargent.  Here's a compilation of some of her series highlights.

The series ended in 1972 and Moorehead retired to Rochester, Minnesota.  Her health was in decline, having been diagnosed with uterine cancer.  She ultimately passed on April 30, 1974.  She was 73 years old. 

Agnes Moorehead was entombed in Memorial Abbey at Dayton Memorial Park Cemetery in Ohio.  Attendees at her service included her mother, who outlived Agnes by 16 years, eventually passing away in 1990 at the age of 106.

Rest in peace.

  • If you want to learn more about Agnes Moorehead, take a voyage over to Amazon.  It's all in books.

  • Moorehead appeared in the 1956 film The Conquerors, which was filmed in what is today known as the Nevada Testing Grounds. Along with Moorehead, several of the film's cast and crew, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Director Dick Powell, have all died of cancer.  Although unproven, many today believe that they were all exposed to fallout material during production.

  • Moorehead initially turned down her most famous role, but reconsidered after being asked by series lead Elizabeth Montgomery.  She accepted the role believing that the series would not last more than one season. It ran for eight.

  • Moorehead's limousine is on permanent display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.  Take a look on Facebook.

  • The graves of two of Moorehead's co-stars, Dick York and Paul Lynde, have also been profiled by this blog.

  • If you're planning to visit Moorehead yourself, do not go on Saturday, when the Abbey is closed to the public.  It's open Sunday-Friday.

No comments:

Post a Comment