Happy Birthday to Classic Movie Legend, Agnes Moorehead, born December 6, 1900.
Agnes Moorehead leads what I like to call a “career double life,” a fairly common condition amongst classic film actors turned small screen stars. So, what do I mean by “double life?” Well, think of it like this: Humphrey Bogart is Humphrey Bogart in every movie he appears in. Whether a bit player in an early thirties gangster film or The Barefoot Contessa, he is and always will be Bogie. Moorehead, however is something different.
Classic movie fans will forever remember Agnes Moorehead as the consummate supporting actress. We remember the stoic, calculating mother of great Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane. We remember Madge, the cold and manipulative antagonist in Dark Passages. We remember Sara Warren, the well meaning but intolerant, small town gossiper in All that Heaven Allows. The world of classic movies remembers her many great roles. The World of American Pop Culture, however, remembers the one: Endora. Despite her illustrious film career that dates back to the early forties, for many people she is simply remembered as Endora, the haughty matriarch of TV’s Bewitched.
You see, this is what I mean “career double life.” In TV Land, the perception of Moorehead completely shifts from actor to character. She is no longer Mary Kane or Sara Warren or Madge Rapf: She is Endora. And there is not a thing wrong with that. The medium of television is supposed to create that kind of familiarity of character. Every week, you allow these characters into your living rooms to see how the plot progresses and how the characters develop. Because you are in the comfort of your own home, rather than a darkened theater surrounded by strangers, an intimacy develops with these characters to the point where, despite what rational thought tells you, it’s entirely possible to forget the characters are even played by an actor. Thus, actor becomes characters.
So, even though Endora is part of Moorehead’s career as a whole, it culturally becomes something very different from her film career. And therefore, she does, indeed, live a career double life. So, let us celebrate this wondrous star by looking at the roles that created a classic film legend and a pop culture Icon.
And of course, Agnes Moorehead the much beloved and bewitching Endora
Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub