Thursday, July 5, 2012

Agnes Moorehead (1900-1974)

The actress whom Orson Welles said could play anything.

“Acting is a difficult and sometimes a discouraging, sorrowful profession. Its also the most ephemeral of the arts. A painter can preserve his work, but an actor cannot. Even motion pictures come and go.” (interview with Ronald L. Bowers)

Magnificent with Joseph Cotten in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942).

“Of course I wanted to play the Stanwyck part in Sorry, Wrong Number. It had been written for me by Lucille Fletcher, and I must have done it on radio about 18 times. I went to Hal Wallis at Paramount when they were casting it to put my hat in the ring, but he said he owed Barbara a picture and that I could have a supporting role. I said no. Im not bitter about it, I let the chips fall where they may and go on from there.... They played my recording constantly on the set.” (interview with Ronald L. Bowers)

Cousin Lily in Summer Holiday (1948).

[On Method acting] “The Method school thinks the emotion is the art. It isnt. All emotion isnt sublime. The theater isnt reality. If you want reality, go the morgue. The theater is human behavior that is effective and interesting.

Soon to receive comeuppance from Humphrey Bogart in Dark Passage (1947).

“Materialism has brought about confusion and decadence. The youth of today have their eyes open to what harm has been done by measuring a man by the size of his bank account, and I feel sorry that so few of them know where to turn because they have lost respect for those closest to them.

The malevolent Countess Fosco in The Woman in White (1948).

[On transitioning from radio to television] “I never thought anything about it. There are lots of times that you cant make the change from the stage to the pictures, or from the pictures to the stage.... The only thing that I feel is the difference is the fact of the medium being either small or large. But as far as emotional values are concerned, theres no difference at all. The playing isnt different.” (1971 radio interview with Chuck Schaden)

 Dispensing tough love to Eleanor Parker in Caged (1950).

[On her most challenging role] “Theyre all challenging. I dont know a role that isnt challenging.... If it isnt a challenge, why do it?” (1971 radio interview with Chuck Schaden)

Sam and Endora bewitch a TV generation.

“Ive been in movies and played theater from coast to coast, so I was quite well known before Bewitched, and I dont particularly want to be identified as a witch.” (1974 New York Times interview)

My favorite Agnes Moorehead films: Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Journey into Fear (1943), Dark Passage (1947), Caged (1950), Magnificent Obsession (1954), Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)

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