Wednesday, December 28, 2011

An Echo Continued

Do you know how an echo sounds once it begins?  It is loud, clear, resounding, forceful and understandable.  With each return though it grows softer, dimmer and more distorted.  Often I think that has what has happened with Agnes.  The further away from her we get the more we are forced to figure out what the echo is saying.  Sometimes I think it reaches a point when it becomes less necessary to know what the echo originally said and more important to define a meaning for it it.  For each person that hears it the echo will mean something different.  More for some less for others.   The most marvelous thing is that Agnes is an echo continued.  Every page you ready every word written, every thought given, every discussion had is a continuation of this larger than life creature.

Agnes was a perfectionist.  Someone who was completely dedicated to the idea that with practice and observation life became a useful tool in and of itself.   She used to say to acting students, ""It's interesting, life, colors, brilliance.  Do something brilliant, think!"  If you want to do something, you take the reality and you color it."  "Watch life, watch theatre, be skeptical, analyze successes, failures, analyze it all."  Take reality and you color it.  It  is an interesting premise that falls in line with her failure to fully live in this world and her desire to make reality conform to what she thought it should be.  Whether it was her school, her family, her career, she had certain tints she applied to them to make them bearable.  She rarely moved beyond the fantasy that she surrounded herself with as protection.  She remained in the woods and was whatever she wanted to be whenever she wanted to be it.

I think if we had an IQ test with Agnes' name on it you'd find that she had a ridiculously high IQ.  She was incredibly intelligent.  Anytime you listen to her speak you can hear that intelligence flowing through that deep velvet voice.  She could communicate anything with that voice and she could make you see it in your minds eye just as clearly as if you had been standing right there.  She can still do that.  How grateful we should all be that she made so many recordings.  Just recently I listened to the original "Don Juan In Hell" again and found myself swept away by her portrayal of Dona Ana.   If you watch her talk on any given talk show about her youth you can see like a mist of a ghost the younger version of Agnes in all her glory.

She was also what I call a "wordsmith."  That is someone who is so eloquent and so talented that words become tools in themselves.  Not just their meanings but their use and the way they are used.  Agnes, it has been said, "used words like hammers."  She emphasized them, repeated them and pounded them into the minds of those who listened to her.  Quint Benedetti says, "She hit them like a batter with the bases loaded.  She did the same thing with sentences.  She would question fiercely, and then quietly, then intensively answer her own questions.  She would make an important statement augustly and then repeat it softly, reflectively, more strongly than the first time.  Or intensely, searching, as if inexorably prying out its true meaning.  But her repetition was always an echo that we would continue inside ourselves"  Her echo would continue inside ourselves and so it does in so many ways.  I doubt that the depth of her mark on this world was ever really completely clear to her.

I don't refer just to her time in Hollywood.  Her imprint goes far beyond Hollywood itself.  It goes into every home on this planet that has a television and show old television shows or movies.  Generation after generation has been exposed to her performances, her philosophies, her truths, her prevarications.  The impact is so deep that she or rather "Endora" is considered to be a cultural icon.  Instantly recognizable in nearly every nation on our planet.  To the generation now passing away and moving on she was a radio cultural icon.  Fortunately the love of the old radio shows and the desire to keep our history alive has allowed an entirely new generation to discover this complex, talented, woman and oh how wonderful she would find it.  Although I often wonder what diatribe she would launch into over the moral state of world today.  As bad as the sixties were the 2000's would truly blow her mind.

Agnes was completely dedicated to her art and a stickler for detail.  Benedetti said, " She'd look into the forest and see the insects, the grass, the burned out useless twigs.  She saw all the details of the forest not just the trees and the branches and the leaves.  She had a keen eye for observation. She saw what a lot of us didn't see.  She went places that many people would not be willing, mentally, to go.  Think about the movie "Fourteen Hours"  it's a movie about suicide and I'm sure we would all agree that if you had experienced the suicide of a sibling the last thing you would want is to do a movie about a parent trying to save the life of their child and no matter how annoying or clingy her character is that is exactly what the character was trying to do.  If you get a chance to watch it take the time to watch Agnes' eyes.  She calls up that pain and puts it right there for everyone to see.  Her attention to detail was infallible.  She used to say,  "Therapy? What do you need with therapy?  Oh, my dear," she scolded high handedly.  Then she proceeded to give me a ten minute lecture.  "I'm a great believer in making your weaknesses your strengths.  I have practiced to good advantage, turning my problems over to prayer.  You don't need therapy.  It will ruin your eccentricity and creativity.  All you'll need is God and the Bible."  "And you just have to know what you are about."  It's a simple clean cut view.  I am what I am.  I have lived what I've lived.  I have been taught what I've been taught and that must be right.  It may be a naive simplistic way to view things but then in many ways Agnes never really grew up.
When her mother, who was a dominant force in her life was around, Agnes always acted like a little girl with her.  It has been said that on more than one occasion when they traveled together a disagreement would be stir up and her mother would just say, "Hush, Agnes!"  Agnes did exactly as she was told.  Quint Benedetti says that only person he ever saw upstage Agnes was her mother.

Not much has been written on Mollie Moorehead that isn't as contradictory as anything written about her daughter.  Her fundamentalist beliefs caused more than their share of strain on both the Moorehead Girls but Agnes was tough as nails.  She forged that distance from her mother into a shield that would keep the world at bay and it taught her how to protect herself.  It has been said alternately that Mollie was the sweetest woman in the world and that she was cold as ice.  My own opinion is that she was a product of her time.  My own grandmother Alice was so very much the same way and my great grandmother even more so.  I have exactly 4 pictures in which my grandmother is smiling and none in which my great grandmother Mae, who was incidentally the same age as Mollie, is smiling.  Great grandmother was a fundamentalist too as was my grandmother.  My grandfather, like Agnes' father, was an easy going Lutheran man with strong opinions of wrong and right but gentle ways of teaching them.  So in Mollie's case the apple didn'[ fall far from the tree.  She reared her children, right or wrong, the way she was reared and her husband left her to her woman's work when they weren't engaged in church business.  Agnes and her sister spent a lot of time away from home.  I think that had a lot to do with the inner friction between Agnes and her mother.  It borders on resentment for Aggie.  She was left to rear herself and her sister.  She watched her sister be destroyed and yet Agnes never outwardly acted out towards her mother.  She treated Mollie as a "good girl" should and demonstrated respect for her but under that there was tension so thick it was palpable.  Benedetti calls it envy.  I call it damage....a case could be made for both.

As Benedetti says, "Agnes never ceased to be a star, an important, intelligent lady, a strange, eccentric lady but a big star. She was irresistible to me.  A promise in herself, whose colors and brilliance made some of the students follow her blindly.  Part of the power of Agnes' spell lay in the promises she'd cast.  Typically feminine, but more so with Agnes."

She was very moody and everything depended on her moods or better yet whims.  She could be in many was undisciplined and jump from one thing to another without really completing something before moving on.  At least that is how her personal life seemed to be lived.  Yet with all that she ran her home like clockwork.  She was an enigma, a walking contradiction. 
Her intensity was an inner fire that flowed out to us through her incredible animation.

She said, " A child is born with a degree of primitive savagery and somebody must discipline it out of him.  A child likes discipline.  He likes to know somebody cares.  Discipline gives standards and values to live by, a  basis for morality.  Most young people don't realize that."

Agnes Moorehead was a complicated woman.  She had complete confidence in herself in front of an audience, in front of a camera, in front of a microphone but take that away and she was lost like a child.  She could perform Agnes Moorehead but it was just that, a performance. As an actress women were drawn to her in particular because she oozed a sense of strength.   Something they felt was solid and comfortable.  Something they felt they might be able to lean on for support in time of need.  We've all heard the rumors but seriously what does that matter.  Any human being with a soul would fall in love with her.  She had a soul like a beacon in the dark and she attracted to her those who craved that erudite kind of light.  Her personal intensity was like flame, like internal combustion that she translated into action.

"I love beautiful people," Agnes would say. "I love clean people.;"  She was opinionated, poignant, domineering and possibly one of the most delightful people of the twentieth century!  Her intensity was an inner fire that flowed out to us through her incredible animation.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In A Horse Race There Can Be Only One Winner

Conflict is an awful thing even in the best situations.  Being pitted against one person or another is tiring, to say the least.  I had it done to me when I was younger and I know from first hand experience that the worst thing in the world is to have a parent that you are pitted against by choice or by accident.  I think that with all that in mind reading Quint Benedetti's treatise on Agnes struck a sympathetic note with me.  Why, you may ask, well I'll tell you.  The story goes something like this:
As a young woman, twenty years old to be exact, I got myself involved with an older woman.  Thirty three years my senior she was.  Suddenly I discovered that my mother, with whom my relationship had always been difficult, was now my adversary in every way she could be.  I was caught in the middle of a no win situation trying to please my mother, the woman, the partner of the woman, who incidentally was a best friend to my mother, tearing myself to pieces and ultimately unable to rectify anything with anybody.  I was stunned when I read this passage in Benedetti's book:  " Agnes' vulnerability opened the door for Tanya and, at times, Agnes' loyalty became caught in the middle of her mother, Tanya and me.  She needed us all...but in a horse race there can only be one winner."

Oh my GOD....There it was in black and white.  Immediately I could relate to the stress of that situation.  I also had a complete grasp of why Mollie had such an intense dislike for Tanya Hills.  There are those out there who will dispute this out the yin yang and that is their right.  I have to say to them, to anybody reading this really, there are only a small number of things that will set a parent on edge the way Mollie Moorehead was set on edge by Tanya Hills:
1. The person your child is spending time with is an obviously bad influence.
2. Your child has done this before with other  people and the results were horrendous.
3. Your child is participating in a behavior you consider to be immoral or illegal.
Little can be said about a parent's protective instinct that is genuinely bad unless it involves physical, mental and/or emotional abuse.  But what constitutes that abuse is open to interpretation.  Typically it is the result of a negative reaction in which words become weapons to inflict pain and shame.  Mollie was equipped to down dress Agnes and like my mother with me, Mollie reacted in a very negative way over Tanya with Agnes.  She did so for the same reason my mother did, see all of the above for explanation, it was explosive for me and obviously explosive for Agnes. Benedetti describes it like this: "As I said earlier, it didn't take Mollie Moorehead long to learn what Tanya was trying to do.  Mollie took an instant dislike to Tanya, so that Agnes and Mollie really began to have the starting of a feud, which was to increase.  It was all over Tanya's meddling and trying to "get in.""
And like this: " She must have felt bad physically and phoned long distance to Tanya about what I never learned.  Looking back know, I think it was about her health.  Mollie had overheard her make the phone call and was livid when she found out that Agnes was talking to Tanya.  An argument ensued and Mollie packed her bags and one morning asked Rochell to take her into New Concord.  Mollie Moorehead was going back to her own home in Reedsburg.  She was mad as a hatter at Agnes for Agnes' contacting Tanya behind her back and she made no bones about it.  It was a sad situation and Rochell tried to talk to Mollie and I talked to Agnes, not realizing how serious Mollie's feelings had been towards Tanya all this time.  As it was, I think Rochell finally to Mollie to the bus station and Mollie went to Canton, Ohio to her sister."

Can you imagine having to cope with that?  No.  Believe me when I tell you that you don't want to imagine having to cope with it.  It's horrible, painful, demoralizing and unforgettable.  You are caught between a desire to be around someone or speak with them and disappointing a parent.  I was only twenty but Agnes was seventy years old give or take a few years.  I simply cannot wrap my head around being that old and being intimidated by your mother.  Don't get me wrong my mother was a very formidable woman but I eventually reached an age when I looked at her and said "your approval of my life isn't required and you can accept me or not but I will love you regardless of it all."  My mother lived with that and eventually we reached the point where we had a good relationship.  It seems that Agnes was never afforded that gift.  She spent her time, her energy, trying to win approval from someone who was determined to have a child that was exactly what Mollie expected her to be.  Is it any wonder that Agnes did exactly the same thing to Sean?

Agnes' having to live with the pressure of keeping part of her life away from her mother is likely responsible for her adamant statements that she did not want her mother living with her.  A life of this kind is isolating and very lonely.  You cannot share a portion of who you are with the person who gave you life.  You learn how to be a very good prevaricator but every now and then your life will insert itself  with devastating effect in to the real world.  An incident like this is the reason Benedetti gives for his falling out with Agnes.  He states, 
"Tanya phoned me when she learned I was back from the farm.  She badgered me to death with questions all about the farm, for she wanted to see it and be with Agnes in the worst way.  Agnes, however, could not let her come because of her mother's feelings about Tanya.  I saw Tanya off and on and even invited her as my date to a fund raising function at the hospital.  During one of our conversations about Agnes, her health, the farm, etc., Tanya told me Agnes had told her why she had sent Rochell home.  He was causing so much difficulty with the workers on the farmhouse, that he was giving orders and upsetting the routine.  I didn't believe this and told Tanya that I felt that I knew Rochell better than she and that he would not do this.  He thought too much of Agnes, for one thing, and also he would not do such a thing to place his wife, Freddie, in jeopardy by acting in such a fashion.  Tanya insisted and somehow I felt it was a ruse schemed up between Tanya and Agnes to get rid of Rochell, so Tanya could have her dream of  going to the farm come true.  Freddie and I both loved Agnes and were genuinely concerned for her well being always.  So, I went to Freddie and, in confidence, asked her why Rochell had returned home from the farm, for Agnes had wanted him to stay on until she could find suitable caretakers for the place when she returned to L.A.  She knew that Rochell would want to be with Freddie back in L.A.  Freddie explained that Rochell came home of his own volition and that he explained to Agnes that he felt he wanted to be with Freddie so he came home.  He was not fired, sent home or let go as Tanya had said to me.  I believed Freddie.
When Agnes finally returned to Los Angeles, after her work in Salem, unbeknownst to me, Freddie decided on a confrontation.  Freddie waited until one day when Tanya was at the Roxbury house with Agnes.  She came downstairs and confronted them both about the rumor of Rochell being fired.  Freddie was a fair lady and wanted both Agnes and Tanya to know that she didn't like lies being perpetrated by either one of them about Rochell.  In a conversation with me, Freddie said it was obvious that they both knew they were in hot water by the way they kept passing the buck.  Freddie knew the truth and they both knew she knew it.  Almost immediately after this, I received a frantic phone call from Tanya who had just been through the torments of hell with Agnes.  Agnes chewed her out to hell and back.....In her tongue lashing from Agnes, Tanya had involved me in some way.  It wasn't long before I received a telephone call from Agnes accusing me of lying about her.  I told her I had never lied to her or about her up to this point."  Quite the story and honestly I have no reason to doubt it.  I know how that goes the inventing of situations to put two people in the same place.  I lived that way for a very long time.  I think Agnes' cutting Benedetti out of her life had more to do with him discovering the truth than any kind of lie.  She felt caught, exposed and unprotected.  While Benedetti insists that Agnes' attachment to Tanya had more to do with her being a nurse than an actual relationship between the two women I would disagree wholeheartedly.  I don't think it was a physical relationship but it certainly was an emotional relationship.  Those emotions ran deep too because you don't fly in the face of parent you know is going to call you on the carpet by pitching a fit over a phone call.  I don't care whether you're twenty or seventy you don't put yourself in a negative position with a companion if there are not some very deep emotions attached.  In fact Tanya must have felt in someway empowered by her relationship with Agnes.  Benedetti actually intimates that when he says these words, "Tanya was more interested in being with Agnes than running the school when Agnes would not be there.  Tanya also wanted, in the worst way, to get more involved with the running of Agnes' home on Roxbury, and would go up when Agnes and I would be on the road and suggest to Freddie and Polly that they should take the day off.  She, Tanya, would run the place.  Freddie, a very dignified and conscientious lady and very loyal, told Tanya that she had been running the house for a good number of years and didn't need Tanya to tell her when she could have a day off."  This is not the behavior of somebody who views themselves as "just a friend."  You didn't see Debbie Reynolds doing anything like this and Agnes was her best friend.  This is the behavior of a mate or companion not a friend.

Yet Agnes knew instinctively that she had to have a man at her side to protect herself and she used Benedetti for that purpose.  She even told Tanya that "she could never do the work for Agnes that I had been doing, since it was mostly diversified and mostly a "man's job.""  Just exactly what those tasks were elude me because essentially he booked jobs for her and traveled with her.  There is nothing so physical about that task that it cannot easily be done by a woman.  I work in technical theater which is a realm that was populated almost exclusively by men twenty years ago but Benedetti did very little tech work.  He handled lights occasionally but Agnes taught him how to do that.  The one thing he could do that Tanya couldn't was be male and Agnes wanted to be seen in the company of a male during public functions.  It actually amazes me that she used that as a fall back because Georgia Johnstone had been her primary secretary for years without any issue.  But then when you have to be a chameleon to protect yourself you give very little consideration to the practicality of what you are doing or saying you simply act on instinct.

Agnes was of a dual nature.  That is the antique politically correct description of those of us who are bisexual.  She was unfettered by the container and more in tune with the sense of the soul.  She displayed that side of herself when she was in her element.  Benedetti comments that,  "That evening, both Tanya and I stayed on both sides of Agnes at the front door greeting the guests as they started to arrive."  She showed her attachment to them both openly.  Unfortunately it was the beginning of the race that would drive Benedetti out of her life permanently.  He felt very threatened by Tanya and by Agnes' attachment to her.  He commented that Tanya was trying to "All About Eve" him by replacing him in Agnes' life.  Tanya's motives are an unknown factor. She has never spoken openly about her relationship with Agnes.  She is still alive living in California.

What is certain is that Agnes understood who she was.  She wasn't naive in any way.  She spoke the lingo that went along with the same sex side of Hollywood.  It even startled Benedetti that she knew of it.  He says when referring to a confrontation Agnes had with a woman over a reading, "Agnes didn't like some of the things the woman was saying about her program and staging requirements.  Agnes really let her know in no uncertain terms that her "program was planned the way it was planned and no one, but no one would change it.  Later, she called the girl a "big butch" and I was surprised to hear Agnes use an expression like that."
Not a phrase that anyone unfamiliar with the lifestyle would use.  

Agnes was a woman of contradictions, complications, distractions.  I think Benedetti demonstrates a grasp of her nature when describing her, "Agnes Moorehead was a real lady.  She was very talented, very religious, avaricious, a lover of nature, a phony, a perfectionist, had a distorted but unique sense of humor, a tightwad, a disciplinarian, a frustrated mother, an animal lover...."  She was a chameleon who was comfortable with herself alone.  She liked to walk the vast area around her grandparents farm.  To be alone in the woods where she could pretend to be whatever she wanted to be.  She was alone in a crowd because she had to be.  It was her armor, another facet on a brilliant diamond of a human being.  As Benedetti put it, " It was ironic that Agnes Moorehead should have a soft country side to her, but she did. With all her sophistication, all her success in the entertainment world, there was a breath of nature in her."  What a beautiful breath of nature she was.

Monday, December 5, 2011

111 years ago today

In Clinton Massachusetts was born to Mary McCauley Moorehead and the Reverend John Henderson Moorehead a blue eyed red haired little girl.  It was Thursday, December 6th and thus as a “Thursdays child” she had far to go.  Go she did with strength, intelligence and determination.  Despite her human failings or perhaps because of them she pursued her dream with a dogged determination rarely found in human beings.  Today 111 years later she is still one of the most recognizable faces in film and television.  I have no doubt that she would have been so proud of that.  If the ancient Egyptians are to be believed as long as your name is spoken and your face represented you will live forever………….

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Miss Information

I  have done an exorbitant amount of reading about the life of my cousin.  I have read every book written about her, every article, every magazine piece, every quip, dot, comma, noun, verb and yet it never ceases to amaze me the amount of information out there that bears so little resemblance to reality.  It is hard to say exactly where some of the blatant misinformation began.  Some of it has just been repeated so many times that it has become accepted as fact.  Some of it is deliberate.  Some of it is a failure of people to accurately research their work.  All of it irritates me because it is an acceptance of an illusion that portrays this strong, passionate, sensitive, beautiful soul as a typical "Hollywood" star.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

What has lead me to this rant, surgery, yes, that's right, surgery.  When you are forced to be relatively still after having a huge portion of your interior removed you read and when you read things that you've read many times you notice the inaccuracies.  I do understand that work, a great deal of work, went into these books yet I'm stunned by the fact that each author seemed to stop just short of the truth.

Charles Tranberg wrote his book " I Love the Illusion" after interviewing some of Agnes' intimates and extensively reviewing her papers at the University of Wisconsin.  His book is filled with more inaccurate information than any of the others.  He put a lot of work into this vehicle but his information is seriously flawed.  His information garnered first hand from the likes of Paul Gregory is brilliant and an invaluable insight into the character of this magnificent woman but his willingness to pepper it with bad information does it a great disservice.   So, in the spirit of unmisinformation, I admit I just made that word up, I am going to dissect and attempt to illuminate the truth of the statements below.

1. Massachusetts Birth of Margaret
The section that alludes to Agnes' family life starts by providing us with information that both girls being born in Massachusetts, " It was shortly after Margaret was born that John was assigned to a new parish in Hamilton, Ohio."  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Agnes was born in Clinton Massachusetts and when her family moved to Hamilton, Ohio she was an only child.  Margaret was born in Hamilton on the 12th of April 1906.  I have the birth record so there's no arguing this point.

2. Home Life
The next information provided was that the Moorehead home was the loving home that we all long for and that the two girls lived a somewhat idyllic life.  First of all we know that Molly could be cold and uncaring.  That statement comes from someone who actually knew Molly Moorehead.  The gentleman who made the statement chalked that part of her personality up to being a fundamentalist Presbyterian.  He also added the her life was lived for the glory of god.  I think it's going out on a limb when you make sweeping statements life the one below because your information is only as accurate as the people who give it to you and one thing I've learned about Agnes is that she was a chameleon.  She could adapt and cover herself no matter what it took.
I'm sure that they were loved but not in the way they should have been.  In the end the lack of understanding and love cost Margaret her life.  So you can take away from this whatever you desire but you have to be willing to read between the lines and apply basic psychology principals to the interpretation of these statements such as, "While they were brought up in a home full of love, music, books, and religion, Agnes and Margaret, like all children got into mischief."

3. Their Personalities
"Agnes developed a headstrong, lively personality and a sharp wit which reminded many people of Mollie, and, in fact, Agnes and Mollie would be remembered for being very similar in attitudes and behavior.  Margaret was more like her father, low key and shy."  From my own personal experience I know what it's like to be similar to your mother.  It usually adds up to arguments, disagreements and a lot of down time in your room reading.  Certainly Agnes was outgoing to a point but she hid her real self to protect it so in truth how much was she like her mother?  If you are out going, headstrong and lively you don't manufacture facades to keep the world at bay.  Similarly low key, mellow, shy people rarely go off the deep end and commit suicide.  I think that the surface of these two complex personalities has only been scratched at best.

4. Hiding in make believe
Agnes hid herself away in her make believe world.  In fantasy she was safe from the trials and tribulations of the outside world.  Again, I must labor on the point that someone with an Ozzy and Harriet up bringing doesn't need to hide from anything.  Nearly every person who speaks about her mentions her ability to detach and enter into a blatantly untrue story then act as though it were fact, for her it was, and yet nobody wants to understand that this type of escape is pursued by someone who has dealt at great length with trauma in their lives.  They say, "Unlike many other children she didn't get frightened when she read Grimm Fairy Tales.  She got caught up in the adventures without the side effects of nightmares. Agnes lost herself in the stories and could spend hours sitting alone reading and then, afterward would spend hours acting out what she read.  She would be in a fantasy world of her own and her best friend was her imagination."

5. Time in Hamilton
The Moorehead family lived in Hamilton until 1913 when John took a pastorate in Saint Louis.  They had been in Hamilton since about 1903.  If you do the math that's longer than seven years as is referenced in Tranberg's book.  It is more like 10 years and 9 for Agnes.  In addition Agnes lived with an Uncle and Aunt in Denver.  It was one of John's brothers that she stayed with.
"The Moorehead's spent seven years living in Hamilton, six for Agnes since she developed whooping cough and the family doctor advised John and Mollie to send Agnes to a dry climate.  She ended up spending a year with an Aunt in Denver."  "In 1912 John relocated to the First Presbyterian Church in St. Louis.  To move from the security of friends and family in Ohio to the big city of St. Louis was not an easy one for Agnes.  She later recalled crying herself the first two weeks after the family arrived."

 6. Death of Teddy McCauley
Agnes was no doubt close to her maternal grandfather.  But the idea that she was small child when he died is truly misinformation.  Teddy McCauley along with his wife Margaret moved to Canton Ohio to be close to Molly and her girls.  Teddy died after 1913.  This makes Agnes a teenager when she discovered her grandfather had died in his sleep.  I'm positive that it scarred her for life but she wasn't a small child as some biographers hint.
Agnes was also close to her maternal grandfather.  He was a religious man and used to speak to Agnes about God and the gospel.  One Sunday afternoon it appeared he was asleep in the big comfortable easy chair he often sat in when telling Agnes stories from the bible.  Agnes went up, as she sometimes did when he fell asleep in his chair, and tapped him on the shoulder.  However, this time he didn't wake up. Agnes would recall that she cried for days."

7.  The Real Municipal Opera story
There are so many huge holes in this story.  First of all Agnes was in high school which puts her age at least at 14.  By her own admission she had not gone there to audition herself.  She went to support a girlfriend of hers and got sucked into it.  She didn't try to look older than she was.  She always wore her hair up and had planned to feign fainting to get out of the mess but before she could do it she was selected.  She cut class to go with her friend to do this and now she had to go home to explain it to her father.  "The summer after her arrival, when she was twelve, Agnes tried out for the St. Louis Municipal Ballet. With her long legs and her red hair tied tightly in a bun, Agnes tried to make it appear that she was older than she actually was, already assuming a role she would often essay on screen.  She was chosen to perform in the ballet and, due to her fine soprano voice, in the choir.  But she needed her father's permission..."

Agnes was never one to give people what they might need to figure out what made her tick.  She guarded herself so closely that any information which came via her to a friend or acquaintance has to be considered suspect.  She didn't talk about her personal life.  She took that information with her when she passed away.  What she left us to unravel was a larger than life electric persona but as often is the case the person who goes to that much trouble to conceal themselves does so because they are fragile underneath the bravado.  They do it to protect their human hearts and souls from being compromised.  Still the strength it took her to master herself is a monument to the woman we have all come to sort of know but definitely love.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I have enabled comments again on my posts. 

Friday, October 14, 2011


Just recently I had an email conversation about Peggy's suicide and Agnes' issues.  One of the exchanges contained a question about what could have possibly damaged these two sisters so very much.  I decided to look through some of the the notes I've made and articles I've read to see if I could provide any insight into the situation.  I found that there is more illusion to Agnes' childhood than there is reality.

It starts with this fallacy:
"Mollie met John Moorehead while she was studying voice at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in 1898.  He was a seminary student in Xenia.  Much to Mollie's parent's consternation the two fell in love and made plans to marry.  Mollie's parents didn't think that John Moorehead was a good and able man, who could provide a good home for their daughter.  He was nearly twice her age.  They married on August 30, 1899, five days after Mollie's 16th birthday."

None of this could be further than the truth.  I cannot find any record of Mollie ever attending the Cincinnati  Conservatory of Music at the age of 15 or younger.  Neither could I find any record of John still being in the seminary in Xenia in 1898.  What I did find is that Mollie was living at home outside of Scottdale Pennsylvania in 1898.   I also found that John H. Moorehead was pastor of the United Presbyterian Church at the corner of Mulberry and Grant Streets in Scottdale Pennsylvania from January of 1896 to November of 1898.  They did not meet in Cincinnati or Xenia they met in Scottdale while John was pastor of the Presbyterian Church there.  When they first met Mollie was just five months past turning 15 and John was 27 going on 28 years old.  I'm sure Mollie sang in the choir.  I know she played the cello and the piano.  But the Ohio version given in Charles Tranberg's biography is pure fiction.  Mollie was quite probably the center of a controversy that involved a 15 year old girl having a romantic relationship with a 27 year old church pastor.  It may have been that John was transferred to Massachusetts as a result of this indiscretion.  But it is well documented that he was pastor of the Scottdale church for two years before he went to Boston.  He was 30 when he married Mollie she was just 5 days past 18 and only 19 when Agnes was born.  Any disapproval on her parent's part would have been moot because she was of age when she married John.  I have no doubt that her parent's opinion of John not being "a good and able man" probably had more to do with the fact that he was a pastor preaching righteous behavior while he was wooing their underage daughter.

Mollie was herself a highly complex woman. Mollie was choir director and Sunday school teacher but apparently thought little about how she twisted the truth herself  She was loud, opinionated and had a flair for the dramatic. It was often said that Mollie was the only person who could upstage Agnes.  She was described by a gentleman who knew her in Reedsburg as "an imposing lady of strong opinions and very outspoken.  In many respects I had great admiration for her and held her in high esteem.  However, like many fundamentalists she could demonstrate a lack of sensitivity and love for others.  Despite some deep flaws her life, for the most part, was lived for the glory of god."  Deep flaws that reflected themselves in the emotional damage done to both of her daughters.  John Moorehead was often described as shy and retiring unless he was in the pulpit.  Mollie was his polar opposite.  He punished Agnes by making her read and Mollie punished Agnes by smacking her.  Agnes would recall that Mollie's "tiny hand could smart."  Mollie seems to have been adept at punishing by using words as weapons having once told Agnes that "the wrong daughter died."  In addition I've found that both children were routinely shipped off for extended periods of time.  The girls spent the entire summer with their paternal grandparents.  Margaret was shipped off at the age of 8 to spend the summer with a family not even related to the Moorehead's in Hamilton Ohio.  Agnes lived for an entire year with a brother of her father and his wife in Denver supposedly due to whooping cough.  Margaret remained in St. Louis when her parents went to Reedsburg and when she did finally live with them full time she ended up killing herself after a mere 9 months of life with them.

It appears that most of Agnes' life was made up in one way or another.  She acted out fantasy scenarios in part, I think, because her life was not the rosy wonderful upbringing she wanted all of us to believe it was.  Much of her life was fabricated.  We are all familiar with her adopting the birth year of her sister and the fact she said many times John Lee was dead when he was very much alive.  What we aren't familiar with were her mother's acts of outright sabotage.  During a birthday party given by Agnes at her Cheviot Hills home Mollie went right up to Agnes' friend and publicist Peter Opp Jr. and told him how old Agnes really was. Opp said, "Mrs. John once told me A's correct age at a birthday party Madame held in Cheviot Hills."  I was utterly dumbstruck at the next sentence Opp recounted.  He states Mollie said,"  I don't know why Agnes twists the truth."  Opp also said after Agnes' passing that "A pretzel has less twists than our departed friend possessed."
She was such a complex woman in ways that defy logic.

One way her complexity demonstrated itself was her willingness to take physical, emotional and mental abuse from her first husband Jack Lee.  The following is part of a trial transcript from their divorce proceedings in 1951:

April 3 1949 Struck her at their Monte Mar Terrace home.
April 27 1949 Threatened her with bodily injury
May 5 1949 Threw a table at her
May 17 1949 Told her he no longer loved her and threatened to get a divorce.
June 14 1949 He struck her.

We are also advised that the following was typical behavior:
Since 1945
Lee forced Agnes to sleep in his room despite her fear and did so at gun point.
Lee fired pistols from his firearms collection.
Lee was drunk practically all the time and had been heard to "browbeat" Agnes.
His drinking got so bad he hid his bottles in bushes and a grandfather clock.
Agnes also testified that Jack struck her at "other times."
All in all very odd behavior for a woman so outwardly strong.  Her self esteem must have been so low to allow anyone to do this to her for 19 years.  She states that Lee began drinking heavily around 1933.  Which means she endured a mean, battering drunk for 16 of their 19 years of marriage.  I think, from Agnes' own admittance that she was not pretty, that she was told she wasn't the pretty one and she would have to deal with whatever she had to because she wasn't the "pretty one."

Another indication of the damage done to Agnes was highlighted in her relationship with Sean.  From Charles Tranberg's book I've copied the following pleading notes to Agnes from Sean when he was a child:
 Letters from Sean
Dear Mother,
I miss you.  I love you.  I will give you some of my toys.  Come home.  I am a good boy and I have my lesson every day.  I want to send you a kiss.

Dear Mother,
I miss you very much.  I love you and want you to come home.

Dear Mother,
I am very happy about all the gifts you gave me.  Thank you very much.  I am sure I will have a lot of fun with my bicycle.  I like my gun and punching bag and all the presents you gave me.  I love you very much.  Your son Sean.

Paul Gregory observed that " What Sean needed and wanted was a loving mother and I think Agnes failed him on that count, not that she didn't love him in her own way, but she didn't demonstrate it, poor Sean, she acted like she was a general in the army and he was some little grunt."  She did not know how to demonstrate love and was so afraid to open herself up.  She had once with her sister and then she was unable to save her sister from killing herself.  Unfortunately she really did the same thing with Sean except she did not express her love to him.  Sean, just like Peggy, left her permanently without ever reaching out for the help or love he needed.  Twice in her life people she loved either died or became dead to her.

Agnes was lively, loud, witty with a flair for the dramatic.  Margaret shy and retiring.  Both were victims of their upbringing and only one survived it.  Again and again as I pick this mystery apart I reminded of how much pure internal strength Agnes had.  She survived and went on to become one of the most well known and beloved performers in entertainment history.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One Secret Unraveled and Another One Begun

Yes I'm still reading newspapers.  Yes I'm still finding things and finally it has paid off in a huge way, well at least for me it has.  It has also left me scratching me head with regard to a completely different topic and possibly having to eat crow over an assumption.  We'll see what happens with that.

August 18, 1928
Evening Gazette

Dr. Moorehead Has Dayton Pastorate
The Rev. John H. Moorehead, new pastor of Patterson Memorial Church, Dayton has arrived in that city, accompanied by Mrs. Moorehead from their former home in St. Louis, Missouri.
Dr. Moorehead graduated from the Xenia Theological Sanctuary of which his uncle Rev. W.G. Moorehead was president.  He will take charge of his Dayton pastorate September 2nd after four years charge of the Carondelet Presbyterian Church in St. Louis.
They have two daughters, Agnes Robertson, who will be graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts next spring and Margaret Ann, nurse at the Jewish Hospital St. Louis.

Okay folks this means Margaret was a nurse, however, she was a nurse at the Jewish Hospital.  I'm sure this made for many a boisterous exchange about religious beliefs in the Moorehead household.  The other thing it may mean is that Margaret graduated from The Jewish Hospital School of Nursing.  So perchance a record of her matriculation may be found there. 

Aside from the obvious woohoo we now know Margaret was a nurse this tidbit in the Evening Gazette throws another curve ball at the whole where does this information come from thing.  It clearly states that the Moorehead's moved from St. Louis to Dayton.  Every piece of documentation I have read to date says they moved from Reedsburg, Wisconsin to Dayton.  I think that perhaps this misinformation was given in order to cover the fact that Margaret did not reside with her family and hadn't for many years.  We know she went to Dayton in the fall of 1928.  My guess is late September or early October.  We also know she was in St. Louis until that time.  By July she was dead and this information makes that death even more horrendous.  She really was a nurse.  She definitely knew the effect that taking Bi Chloride of Mercury would have on her.  She most assuredly knew it would be fatal despite her reassurance to her mother that she had taken care of a girl who recovered.  You don't recover from this.  It isn't even a remote possibility unless you are literally at the front door of the hospital when you take it.  There is a mere 10 minute span of time during which it is potentially possible to save a person who has taken Bi Chloride of Mercury.  Margaret was down somewhere either at home or at "Franks" for quite awhile.  This is a young woman who wanted to die.

I wonder now after reading of her being shipped to Ohio to spend a summer with a family not related to the Moorehead's at the tender age of eight exactly what kind of family this was.  One thing is certain it produced one child who successfully terminated their own life and one child who hid herself from the world behind a persona that was larger than life.  Terrified, as it were, that someone would come to know the real Agnes.  I truly believe, especially the more I read, that this family was dysfunctional on a level we can only begin to imagine and that the two sisters were likely far closer than anyone would assume.  I do believe Agnes was a mother figure to Margaret and the absence of Agnes from her parents home thrust Margaret into a position of having to cope daily with Mollie.  It turned out to be fatal.  I think Agnes carried the pain of her sisters death to the grave with her and felt completely responsible for it because she wasn't there to run interference.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Republican News Hamilton Ohio June 29, 1914

"Little Miss Margaret Moorehead of St. Louis, daughter of the Reverend and Mrs. John Moorehead, has come to spend the summer months with Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Blair, of North Seventh Street."
It seems the habit of shipping Margaret off to one place or another started when she was very young.  At the point she was shipped off for the summer in Hamilton, Ohio she was 8 years old.  It makes me wonder what the issue was and why you would send your child to unrelated individuals for an entire summer.  I know I spent a couple of weeks each summer with my grandparents but this just seems odd.

Monday, September 26, 2011


I was just reading the reply that was sent to me about the potentiality of Jack Lee having committed marital rape so I decided to repost this bit of my blog about the initial public explosion of Agnes’ first marriage.  I’ve been thinking about this all day and how horrendous it must have been living in a powderkeg like that.  We know from the posting below that according to Jack’s divorce petition Agnes had barred him from her bedroom “for snoring too loudly.”  What I want everyone to understand is this man was not a gentle drunk who passed out harmlessly snoring being the only annoyance he was guilty of.  In my research I have read several assertions during the divorce proceedings that Jack was capable of gross violence. 
Now I will be the first to admit I wasn’t there and as I have said many times the only people who actually know for sure are dead.  Agnes asserted at the proceedings that Jack, drunk at the time, held a gun to her head and forced his way into her bed.  He held the gun to her head, she iterated, and made her sleep in the same bed with him.  She did not say he raped her but I think it can be assumed that he forced himself on her sexually.  Her life was a nightmare, a waking nightmare that she had no control of.  I believe that is why it took her four years and an affair with a younger man she thought she could safely manage to file for divorce.  It couldn’t have been an easy thing to do because she had to have know that her whole life would essentially be laid out before a judge.  Her legal team managed to control the media to an extent.  She did receive some bad press at the hands of Lee’s legal eagles but nothing that did roll right back on him.
In the book written by Charles Tranberg it is stated that Lee was basically a nice guy who got in way over his head when he married Agnes and took to drinking because he was emasculated.  I also recall that it was stated Lee told Agnes point blank she was nothing but a meal ticket for him, yeah, nice guy.  I believe that Jack Lee used Agnes as much if not more than Robert Gist ever thought about using her.  She supported him for twenty years.  The amount he worked would barely have kept him off welfare if he had attempted to survive on his own.  I don’t know what happened to him and I’m inclined not to give a damn, however, my idea of telling the whole story keeps my searching for him to determine his final outcome. 
I realize that Agnes had a strong personality and perhaps her idea of marrying because it was expected of her lead her down a path whose end result was twenty years of enduring a brutal drunk who beat and most likely raped her.  I don’t care how strong your personality is or how capable a person you are living like that will break you down very quickly.  The fact that she managed to keep herself together, in a manner of speaking, speaks to the pure strength of spirit she had.  She slipped.  She made the Gist mistake.  She may have made other missteps we will never know about.  Allegedly in an argument with, “one of her husbands,” Agnes screamed at him, “If you can have a mistress, so can I.”  A glimpse of the real woman beneath?  Who knows.  All I know is the more I find out about her the more I love her and the prouder I am to claim her as family.
The Volcano Goes Off.
Agnes went out of her way to achieve good press. She ate it up by accepting honorary degrees from her Alma mater or by donating time to help support the troops. She created visions of a perfect life. Her perfect life was horribly, horribly flawed though because she could not control the man she had married. A would be actor whose career, unlike her own, went absolutely no place. They had started out on even footing but John Griffith Lee could not keep pace with his wife no matter how hard he seemed to try. You see, Jack, as he was called, was quite docile and happy as long as he was permitted to be the man of the family but once his wife stepped into those shoes he became a belligerent drunk with a very bad temper.
For the first four years or so life was quiet on Monte Mar Terrace in the Lee household but then August 25th 1945 happened. The illusion was shattered and the newspapers noticed.
Hollywood August 25 (UP)
Actress’ Husband Barred From Home
Fearing bodily harm actress Agnes Moorehead today had her husband, Jack G. Lee, barred from their home and filed a suit for separate maintenance.
In her suit, filed in the Santa Monica Branch of Superior Court, Miss Moorehead expressed fear that her husband of 15 years might attempt to destroy their home. Superior Court Judge Clarence M. Hanson issued a temporary order barring him from the home.
She asked maintenance of only $1.00 per year, saying she is able to support herself.
It would not be until October 7, 1946 that they would reconcile for the first documented time.

Over the next 3 years Agnes maintained control of the media output surrounding herself and her husband. There would be a visit to the family farm complete with happy shining pictures. There would be articles about her flying to New York to spend Christmas with him while he was appearing in a show. There would articles about her home showing photo’s of her cooking for him. It appeared as though everything was just right. The key word is appeared. Under the surface tension was rising like a volcano. In 1949 the volcano blew and the results were down right horrendous.

May 8, 1949
Nevada State Journal
Agnes Moorehead and her husband Jack Lee have reconciled after a 4-day trial separation.
June 9, 1949
Nevada State Journal
The Agnes Moorehead-Jack Lee marriage is coming apart at the seams.
June 15, 1949 Agnes filed for separation from Jack again but this time he remained in their Monte Mar Terrace home and she was residing at the beach. The majority of what follows are blurbs about movies. One is even tempted to forget about the problems until May 16, 1950. Then the door to her private life is kicked open with tremendous force and everyone settles in for what promises to be a long drawn out fight.
May 16, 1950
Married 19 Years Files for Divorce
Los Angeles May 16 (AP)
Actress Agnes Moorehead, suing to divorce actor Jack G. Lee her husband of 19 years, says she does not want alimony. She charged cruelty in her suit filed yesterday and said they separated last June.
June 1, 1950
Portsmouth Herald
Portsmouth New Hampshire
Actor Jack Lee is blocking the path for a Reno divorce by his estranged wife, Agnes Moorhead. The community property fight may be a bitter one.
August 15, 1950
Actor Does About Face, Sues Ex-Wife
Los Angeles August 15 (UP)
Actress Agnes Moorhead’s husband demands $200,000 in community property in a counter divorce suit.
Radio-television actor Jack G. Lee charged the actress with extreme cruelty and asked that he be given all the property including securities, three automobiles, two Ohio farms and a home here.
Miss Moorhead in her divorce action last May said all the property was acquired by her earnings and should be considered hers alone. Both she and Lee are 47. They married in 1930.

August 25, 1950
Berkshire Evening Eagle
Pittsfield Mass
Table Missile Held Divorce Grounds
Los Angeles August 25 (AP)
Among other things, says actress Agnes Moorhead, her estranged husband threw a table at her.
She wants a divorce. So does Lee, a radio actor. Both want all the community property estimated at $200, 000. Each charges the other with cruelty, Miss Moorhead didn’t throw any tables however.
They were married in 1930. Miss Moorhead originally filed for divorce. Lee filed a cross complaint last week. Yesterday Miss Moorhead amended her suit and mentioned the table-tossing episode.
October 4, 1950
Syracuse Herald Journal
Los Angeles October 4 (AP)
Miss Moorhead Cruel, Says Hubby
Actor Jack G. Lee says, his wife, actress Agnes Moorehead, berated him because of his dress, speech, posture and manner of eating. The assertions were contained in a cross complaint filed yesterday.
Lee also alleged that she humiliated him by instructing that the servants in their home answer the telephone with the phrase: “Miss Moorehead’s residence.”
On one occasion, he added, she banned him from her bedroom on grounds that he snored too loudly.
He charged that she hired a publicity man “whose purpose was to break up the marriage.” And that she then began keeping company with “a strange man.”
The actor cited these instances as cruelty in asking a divorce and all of their $200, 000 worth of community property.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Documentation of a Beating?

While I was working on this picture I noticed something that I’m sure nobody outside of those who were there and edited the picture were ever aware of, stitches.  On the colorized version you can’t we them as clearly.

On the black and white version you can clearly see them.  I thought the picture looked very unusual anyway.  Her eyes are swollen.  She’s wearing next to no make up.  Her right eye is swollen to the point of looking smaller, substantially smaller, than the left.  At the end of her left eyebrow right at the edge of her nose sit 3 maybe 4 small white stitches.  The photo was taken May 24, 1945 almost exactly 3 months to the day she filed for her first separation and divorce from Jack Lee.  She had a restraining order issued against him because she was in fear of her life and that he might try to burn down their home.  3 months before this event she shows up for a photo shoot with stitches in her face.  So they did what they always do in Hollywood, they made it work.  They threw all the light from the left side and had her turn her head to the left, a position she was almost never photographed in, to hide the damage.  From a photographic standpoint it almost works until you look into the eyes…I know that look…..I have had that look and it’s fear, pain, anguish, panic…..seems that Quint Benedetti had some very accurate information about Jack beating Agnes….pity…to see such sadness in such beautiful eyes.

PS: You may be wondering why they threw all the light at the side where she has the stitches. In stage or film or photo lighting if you are dealing with an injury you don't want people to see, like a bruise or stitches, you throw lots of light at it to wash it out. You can't cover stitches with make up because of the risk of infection. This explains the lack of normal make up in the picture. If you allow a bruise or cut to sit in the shadows they look twice as bad since they are already dark they look darker than the normal skin tone around them. When looking at the picture above remember she has a ton of light coming right at the left side of her face, no nose shadow indicates that, from the front and from the side. Yet her left eye and the area where the stitches appear is much darker than the surrounding skin. Hence she had a bruised eye, a cut that required stitches and what may be a slight area of bruising above the center of the left brow. Whatever happened to Aggie she took a beating from something or someone. Her physician deliberately used white silk to stitch the cut so he'd been around Hollywood for awhile since they used white silk on the face so as to hide facial cuts during filming or photographing. I think her willingness to go on with her scheduled event trusting in the people around her to conceal the damage speaks volumes about the intense strength she had.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Septembber 11 2001 and December 7 1945

Time is relative, or so Einstein said, but I can think of at least two, no make that 3, that are not.  7:48 AM Pacific Time December 7, 1941.  8:46 AM Eastern Standard Time September 11, 2001 and 3:46 AM Eastern Standard Time September 11, 2011.  Let me tell you why I think each one is so important.  Two were so important that the world was forever changed  by them.
On December 7th, 1941 at 7:48 am the Japanese launched their attack against the military installation at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  In Pearl Harbor on that Sunday morning 2,350 people lost their lives.  68 of those were civilians.  It was the day after my cousin Agnes’ 40th birthday.  It was the day after many other birthdays, marriages, anniversaries, reunions.  It was the day after another day of life.  Our world was suddenly at war.  Newsreels cranked out the news as fast as they could but despite the horrendous nature of this terrible attack it would never have the immediate visual input that the one destined to happen nearly exactly 60 years latter would.  The impact on the lives of average Americans was just as great.  The once mighty giant of American stood stunned and momentarily silent, grief stricken, panicked and numb.  Children were born who never knew their fathers and in some rare instances their mothers.  Parents lost their children.  Grandparents lost their grandchildren.  We, once again, as we had done during the Revolutionary War, became a nation of fearless, determined patriots.
On September 11 at 8:46am the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  At first many of us didn’t know what we were seeing.  For those, like myself, whose days start a little later we were drinking our morning coffee and staring at the television.  First we thought we’d left a movie channel on and then the stunning realization that it was not a movie hit is like a brick between our tear filled eyes.  We assumed we were watching a horrible accident unfold.  We were not.  The first news coverage came on at 8:48.  They began to talk about this accident unfolding at the World Trade Center.  On live television at 9:03 am Eastern Standard Time the South Tower of the World Center was struck by flight 175.  It happened right in front of our eyes.  All those people were instantly killed right in front of our eyes.  Our world was gone like dust after an western monsoon.  At 9:37AM Eastern Standard time Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.  I know a Chaplain who was there, who saw it and who has never been the same again.
At 9:59 on live television the South Tower of The World Trade Center collapses.  At 10:03 in the small Borough of Shanksville, in Somerset County Pennsylvania Flight 93 is driven into the ground of a field, The Bourough of  Shanksville is 29 miles from the Hospital next to Mine 13 where I was born and just 27.7 miles from the birthplace of my grandmother.  In this place 40 people gave their lives willingly to save an untold number who would have died had this plane reached her destination of Washington D.C.  At 10:28 am on live television the North Tower of the World Trade Center Collapses.  In total 2, 996 people loose their lives.  The majority of it is seen on television as it occurred. 
We were stunned, momentarily silent, shocked, grieved, ill, but ultimately, as has been the case so many times before, we did the most heroic, patriotic, compassionate things we could.  Some people dug with their bare hands trying to help.  Some simply took other stunned survivors by the hands and lead them from the destruction.  Hundreds and hundreds of emergency personnel came from all over the United States and unltimately the World to help in what we hoped might be a rescue mission but what turned out to be one rescue mission followed by an extended list  of recoveries.  Each one of those recovered was treated with dignity, honor and respect by those who recovered them.  People went for days without sleeping or eating to do this gruesome job.
Life as we knew it was over.  It became a catchphrase “Post 9/11.”  It became a hassle to trudge through the airports being searched.  It became an intolerant world on so many fronts.  Hate began this tragedy and in some instances hate has blossomed from it like a viperous cancer.  It is impossible on this tenth anniversary to say if we will ever recover from 9/11.  Maybe we will.  I would like to think that is possible.
The third time I mentioned as important 3:46 AM Eastern Standard time.  Well that is the time I woke up and felt compelled to write this.  To say to all the victims lost on December 7th, 1941, we will never forget you even though the years may fade the horror of the event, we will never forget you.  To say to all the victims of September 11, 2001, we will never forget you or how your passing right in front of our eyes forever changed our world.  We are honored to call you brother, sister, mother, father, daughter, son, grandmother, grandfather, partner, friend.  We will never allow your sacrifice to be in vain and we will find a way to heal this world, to find peace once again and we will do that in your names.  So that you who gave your lives on that clear September morning 10 years ago will have done so to heal a wound created by hate.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

September 11, 2001

In a little less than two weeks it will be the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11.  National Geographic has a series on this week called “Remembering 9/11.”  The show they have on tonight “9/11 Where Were You?”  For me that part of the process is simple, I was at home watching planes hit the World Trade Center and initially thought I had left my television on a movie channel.  Then the gut wrenching reality kicked in, this was not a made for t.v. movie it was real life. 
Suddenly the world became a different place.  A plane hit the Pentagon.  I knew people that worked there who have never been the same since.  A group of flight attendants and passengers on Flight 93 took control of their plane, slamming it into a field in Somerset County Pennsylvania not far from where I was born.  My great Aunt attended the very first Memorial Service there just a few days later.  Life was no longer the open joyful thing it was before.  The future was no longer a bright place.
Now we find that the men and women who went in to help after the attack to find the remains of loved ones lost by others are dying from diseases caused by the caustic material they breathed for months while trying to ensure that every person who perished was found.  Nobody is willing to help them.  Our bureaucratic government has hog tied the hands that might help these heroic men and women live longer lives but there is haggling over the money that is endless.
In circumspection reliving this, watching it over again, I wonder when we will remember the lessons we should have learned that day.  I wonder when we will realize that we are human beings who should simply accept and respect each other as human beings.  Our differences have cost too many lives.  I wonder when we will realize that this planet we live on is one planet not many.  Our differences have cost too many lives.  I wonder when we will realize that no idea is so perfect, so pure that anyone should be willing to commit murder to further it.  Our differences have cost too many lives, our differences have cost too many lives, our differences have cost too many lives.
Let us all take the time at 8:46 am on September 11 to remember that we must heal this planet, we must heal ourselves, we must heal the future, our differences have cost too many lives.

Monday, August 29, 2011

She Was A Pious Woman

Just recently I had the opportunity to listen to the interview between Robert Osborne and Debbie Reynolds regarding Agnes Moorehead.  In the interview Debbie says some absolutely wonderful things about Agnes.  Each and every statement about her talent is so true.  Debbie says she was a great actress and should have been given far more accolades than she was accorded during her lifetime.  It is the manner that Debbie chooses to end the interview that I find, I guess irritating is the word I'm looking for, and so totally unnecessary.  Debbie insists that Agnes was not gay, a fact, I might add, that I have stated repeatedly cannot be technically proved nor disproved, because she was so religious, so pious.  I do not doubt that Agnes was religious.  Her father was a pastor and she was raised in a church.  I do doubt that this idea of religion precluding a sexuality outside the box.  It simply doesn't.

The Book of Ruth talks openly of love between women.  The love of Ruth for her daughter in law Naomi.

1:8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.

1:9 The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.
1:10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.
1:11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 1:12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; 1:13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.
1:14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.
1:15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.
1:16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 1:17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

Is this not simply the deepest love of one person for another.  Where you go I will go.  Your people will be my people.  Your God my God.  Where you die I too will die and also be buried.  Only death will part the two of us.  This dear people is love in its purest form.  Considering the fact that her father had her memorize bible passages and that she read the bible herself it is doubtless that she was unaware of The Book of Ruth.
I believe that her ideology that love had no sex but was a  joining of spirits, souls stemmed from these readings.

I don't doubt her piety.  I don't doubt her religious nature.  I see her natural gravitation to women.  I know she was married to two men.  She herself says "I am no paragon of virtue."  I believe that her wisdom in allowing her words to be published only after her death was a "god given" ability to know that we as humans would become so obsessed with understanding her sexuality that we would loose touch with who she wanted us to know.  She was a wise, wise woman.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

1928 Letter to Lucille Hynes from Agnes Moorehead

1928 Letter
On letter head that reads:  Agnes R. Moorehead
                                         Studio Club
                                         New York City
I was glad to read another letter from you.  I know I owe you more than a letter for your thoughtfulness.  I’m fearfully busy Lucille, much to busy to think of  anything but my work.  I really have to be on the jump constantly, which is nothing out of the ordinary with me-but which is most annoying sometimes when I realize certain things demand my attention and my time.
I was interested in all the news, especially that of Eunice.  Poor dear, life is very tragic for her and she is so young to have to face such things.  I feel sorry for her.  When you see her again, give her my love.  I would like you to find out just the exact date of the local contest at the hall- I think Miss Ogilive has been so desperately busy that she has neglected telling me- so you do it for me.  I know how rushed I used to be at that time.  I hope the usual standard will be maintained.  You will have to go and criticize for me.
New York is surprisingly gorgeous now the weather is ideal and the shops are just bursting with lovely spring clothes.  It is a joy to dash down 5th Avenue and window shop, or to take a brisk walk in Central Park.  One can do so many interesting things here in New York.  It never ceases to be gay and thrilling.
My examinations start in a few weeks and I’m rather keyed up about them.  I can hardly realize that in another two months I will be headed for the west again.  Sad isn’t it?
I must stop now and get to my study.  Don’t work too hard-drawing-etc.
Much Love,
Agnes R. Moorehead
Sent to Lucille Hynes March 6 1928 in Soldier’s Grove.

1927 Letter to Lucille Hynes from Agnes Moorehehead

1927 Letter
Dear Lucille,
This heat, tripled with a number of various and sundry duties have delayed answers to ever welcome letters.  It was certainly a joy hearing from you-even the easily recognizable script was a thrill.  I do hope you are considering school this fall.  I should be quite perturbed if you do not go on with your education.
Everyone feels the need of more knowledge as they live on.  No doubt you heard of my work in broadcasting these days.  It has been so much fun-and as things lead on to bigger ones-I am scheduled to sing at one of the Saint Louis theatres for a week.Its rather interesting doing things on a big scale once in a while.
Have been doing some interesting coaching with a Frenchman who has only been in this country a few months.  His broken English is delightful-you would enjoy him.  He certianly knows French Drama to perfection.  Be a good girl and write to me again.  I’ll be more prompt next time.
Agnes R. Moorehead
July 26, 1927
Addressed to Miss Lucille Hynes in Soldier’s Grove

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Follow up on Tanya Hills

Tanya Hills is still alive.  She is 76 years old residing in the western u.s. and is a chiropractor.  She was a tennis player back in the day and Agnes actually mentions her tennis game in one of the handwritten letters I had.  She is also a Registered Nurse.  It appears that she never married and has a twin sister named Sandra. The more I read about this woman the less inclined I am to take Quint Benedetti’s observations about her being some sort of trouble maker.  Benedetti alleged that Tanya lied about Agnes’ driver to insinuate herself into Agnes’ holiday at the farm in Ohio.  I think his observations are a colored a great deal by his jealousy of Tanya and her expanding roll in Agnes’ life.  I think that if Mollie did not like Tanya it most likely had to do with her daughters closest relationship at the time was with a woman.  That says to me that Mollie was aware of her daughter’s attraction to both sexes and determined to prevent anything untoward, in her opinion, from happening.  I still don’t think contacting Tanya will produce any answers because if her relationship with Agnes was as intense as it seems to have been given her age Tanya is unlikely to talk about it.  Food for thought.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Forensic Conclusions Are Harder Than You Will Ever Know

I started this whole process of dissecting Agnes' personality with a decision to be surgical and clean in the process.  At the end of it I find that to be pretty much impossible.  There are many reasons for this but the frontrunner on that list is her humanity.  I have found this wonderful, complex, determined, strong, weak, protective person under that veneer.  In other words human just like the rest of us.

I know very few people who are utterly and totally predictable.  I know even fewer who show themselves for what they are one hundred percent of the time.  I have been through trauma but, unlike her, I have had the opportunity to speak to professionals about it, to be monitored and assisted when needed.  We have all had moments in our lives when everything we thought we knew was swept away and we were forced to learn how to live again.  Some of us have even been where she was, controlling mother, sibling suicide, deaths in rapid succession amoung close family members, divorce, financial woes, lonely, petrified that someone would learn the truth of who we were, failed relationships, failed business ventures, overwhelmed by success, under a microscope, child behavior issues, fearing for our future but how many of us have come through it unscathed?  Very few I would imagine, very few indeed.

This is the point of it all.  I was once told by a very wise person that each person in our world acts as a mirror for our soul.  We are generally interested in those who, on some level, remind us of ourselves or reflect a situation we may be trying to deal with or are an idealized image of what we wish we might be.  I felt by reflecting Agnes' humanity back toward us we might indeed find that we had so much more in common with this woman than we had ever dared to imagine.  I found this to be true of myself during the process.  I wanted to make her human and I believe I have to an extent.

I found her to be damaged by so many things.  Her mother, her sisters death, her fathers death, her abusive husbands ( I make this plural because Robert Gist was just as abusive as Jack Lee ever thought about being but he did it without outward physical marks.  He did it psychologically.), her money problems, her fame.  She was emotionally crippled in the largest sense of the word.  Terrified of what other people might do to her.  Terrified of loosing control of her life.  Terrified of loosing her youth, her money, her career.  She lived in constant terror of so many things.  The only creatures on this earth she really trusted implicitly were her animals and her love for them speaks of a person harmed by humans to the point of only trusting the unconditional love of an animal.  Do you know what it takes to reach that point?  How much damage must be done to the psyche for this to occur?  It is symptomatic of several psychological disorders you know.  I read over and over again, "Will develope an affinity for close emotional ties to animals because it is unconditional."  Agnes herself said "You can't depend on human beings, you know."  This sentence was one of the most telling of all of them save for Boze Hadleigh's interview.  Humans are not dependable.  They will find a way to let you down and to hurt you.  How tragic an outlook that is.

Agnes was tragic.  It is a part of her beauty.  Look at her eyes in those candid pictures taken when nobody is looking or when she is tired.  Those eyes are the saddest I've ever seen.  They are the mirrors of her soul.  Even when she's smiling there is something so distinctly sad in the back of them.  But just think about the strength of this soul too.  This magnificent phoenix of a soul that drags itself up time and again from the ashes of some occurence that would have killed a weaker person.  She rises and keeps right on going forward even in the face of death.  That is impressive people, so very impressive and without, so far as we know, one iota of psychoanalysis.  Nobody there to put out a medical hand to hold her up.  She stood up through sheer force of will. 

On the topic of psychoanalysis why buy one when you can be one!  Agnes said all the time, "I know what I'm about."  I think the quick glimpse afforded us of her acting school by Quint Benedetti told us all something very important about Agnes, why pay for psychoanalysis when you can do it yourself.  She says several times that you must understand psychology to be a actor.  You must have a knowledge of it.  She was a highly educated woman and she read all the time.  Believe this, she read books on psychology.  She understood what was going on inside of her better than anyone who might have attempted through guided conversation and psychological symptom analysis.  Like every person with a mental illness there were times when it momentarily slipped beyond her control but unlike the rest of them she would right her ship and get it on course through self discipline.  It blows me away actually...totally...I've never seen anything like it in all my years.  It's like breaking an arm and setting it yourself because you've read every book on medicine you could find.  Then when it's healed a professional says "What doctor set this for you? They did an amazing job!"   Your response, "Thanks Doc I did it myself with some paper towels, a rubberband and duct tape!"  "Hello 911 my doctor has just had a heart attack.  Could you send an ambulance but not to worry I'm giving him CPR as we speak.  He will be just fine but do hurry."  AMAZING.

Agnes was so very aware of the dangers of mental illness that she did a large number of public service announcements about it.  Stressing the need for care and concern.  She understood what it did and how it did it.  She watched her own sister self destruct because she was not strong enough to bear up under the weight of it.  Agnes worked it like it was hers to control and not vice versa.  Keen understanding of who you are.  A willingness for self examination.  Strength enough to steer around the rocks.  All of this while maintaining a public image of coolness, control, and style.  Like I said earlier the clinical, cold, calculated forensic examination goes right out the window when you are talking about Agnes Moorehead.

This is not to say she did not have the capacity for some immense failings because she did.  Her isolationist personality put her in the position of having nobody to fall back on, ever.  She lacked the intimacy that the average person has.  She was unskilled in this behavior because she spent so much time not trusting anyone.  Her volatile relationship with her foster son was a prime example.  Agnes had no business bringing a child into her world.  It didn't stop her from doing it but it should never have been allowed to happen.  Sean was doomed from the moment she took him home.  The only example of child rearing she had was that of her mother and in small bits her father.  Agnes became as domineering as her mother had ever thought about being.  She wanted total and absolute control over Sean without any thought of the changing environment he was growing up in.  Her goals were unrealistic.  Her style of raising him was unrealistic.  Like her own parents she was gone for weeks or months at a time then back in his life with all the force of a hammer.  He didn't stand a chance.  He was emotionally damaged himself when she took him in and then as he grew confronted with the idea that this was not his mother and the idea of having parents who cared so little for him that they left him in a hospital to be adopted even more damaged.  Then throw on top of that a very strong will to dominate coming from his foster mother, damage.  But he's been loyal none the less.  I think in his own way he loved her and respected her.  He could have given umpteen interviews cutting her to shreds but didn't.  He never profitted from his life with her and that says something about the sense of loyalty she instilled in him.  The very same fierce loyalty she demonstrated to a mother and a father who had unwittingly damaged her.  Again, the standards are out the window.

In conclusion, yes Agnes had some grievous mental issues.  She had Emotional Detachment Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and perhaps a smattering of Borderline Personality Disorder.  She had at least two perhaps three maybe even four different personalities in the same conciousness functioning on different levels at all times.  Today if she had sought treatment, like that ever would have happened, but there are those who said the same about me come to think of it, she would have been on medications to assist her in day to day life and she would have promptly lost her magic.  Agnes had it right when she said that actors sell fantasy and that to tamper with the psyche of an actor was to destroy his or her magic.  I know it would have taken that sense of the fantastic away from her.  It would have removed the part of her that so many people came to know and love at a distance.  For all of her foilbles and issues I find that I am quite happy with the woman who had magic in her voice and mischief in her eyes but lived in a world so mysterious, so unreal, that it riveled the beautiful land of Oz.  I know I loved going there with her.  Didn't you?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Too Sweet A Song

Pale With Envy The Rose Doth Grow
If one is to discuss the psychology of another it cannot be done without addressing the topic of sexuality.  Agnes was born in the year 1900 on December 6th.  On the 22nd of January 1901 Queen Victoria died.  With her passed the Victorian Age and the industrial revolution became a full throttle obsession of every civilized nation.  As far as women were concerned it took nearly two decades for everyone to become obsessed with morality, psychology and religion.  By 1920 all three were served up to America with the delicacy of a velvet covered sledge hammer. 

Agnes began growing up in the Age of Innocence and became an adult in the Jazz Age.  What, you may ask, has this to do with her sexuality?  The answer is a very great deal.  In her formative years Agnes was an avid reader.  A trait she maintained until she died.  Her appreciation of Victorian and early twentieth century literature is highlighted by many of the pieces she performed in her one woman show.  Like every young woman in the early part of the last century she undoubtedly read children's magazines.  They were plentiful and cheap.  They were considered moral wholesome entertainment for children of both sexes.  What you don't know is that during the age of innocence it was perfectly acceptable for a girl to have crushes on other girls.  It was encouraged because it meant they weren't getting into trouble with young men and it was considered relationship practice.  In 1908 in an American children's magazine there was a story in which a teenage girl writes a love poem in honor of her female schoolmate.  It is a beautiful poem and goes like this:

My love has a forehead broad and fair,
And the breeze blown curls of her chestnut hair,
Fall over it softly, the gold and the red
A shining aureole round her head.
Her clear eyes gleam with an amber light
For sunbeams dance in them swift and bright
And over those eyes so golden brown
Long, shadowy lashes droop gently down.
Oh pale with envy the rose doth grow
That my lady lifts to her cheeks' warm glow!
But for joy its blushes would come again
If my lady to kiss the rose should deign.

Isn't it just a beautiful piece.  I adore it.  I would bet money on Agnes having read it.  It was published in total innocence.  In the belief that girls and women weren't sexual creatures but emotional ones.  I've read that somewhere before, oh yes, in an interview with Agnes.

Even well established magazines, some of which still exist today, like Ladies Home Journal published stories about "romantic friendship."  Ladies Home Journal published a story in 1919 called "The Cat and The King."
In the story a young college woman named Flora sees her idol Annette and the narrator observed the following:

"To the freshman gazing from her walk, it was if a goddess high-enshrined and touched by the rising sun, stood revealed.  She gave a gasp of pleasure."

Nobody batted an eyelash at the story because it was still considered natural.  Agnes read a piece her one woman show called "The Ballad of the Harp Weaver." It was written by Edna St. Vincent Millay.  Millay was a feminist and a playwright as well as a lyrical poet.  She was a well educated woman graduating from Vassar.  In 1923 "The Ballad of the Harp Weaver" won a Pulitzer Prize. Her 1920 collection A Few Figs From Thistles drew controversy for its novel exploration of female sexuality and feminism.  She was bisexual.  Her work is amazing.  Agnes loved her work.

Agnes began her college career in 1919.  She once said that she had never gone on a date unchaperoned until she left college.  At Muskingum the rules and regulations governing intermingling of young women and young men were lengthy.  They were also strictly enforced.  Essentially the college acted as two schools under one roof.  A women's college and a men's college.  They attended some classes together but social groups were divided right down the line of sex.  There were men's groups and sports.  There were women's groups and sports.  Never the twain shall meet except under the watchful eyes of faculty, period!   It is such a huge departure from our education system today that if we suddenly hit a time warp and found ourselves in the middle of 1919 we'd be hard pressed to survive believe me!

Lavender With A Big Difference
It was during her years at Muskingum that Agnes probably flourished and floundered the most.  She flourished because she had the chance to learn, to perform in plays, to sing, to read and to be athletic.  One thing she does say during her "Lavender Lady" performance sticks with me, "I guess you could say I was a bit of a tomboy."  Agnes spent four years as a member of the women's athletic group flourishing.  Her floundering was most likely a result of inexperience.  She was a preacher's daughter.  She was not streetwise in any way.  Her social identity was strictly related to women.  While the young women around her began to experiment with the somewhat Bohemian loose morals of the "Jazz Age" Agnes did not.  She maintained her circle of female friends and did not venture beyond it.  In one of her first shows at college called "The Twig of Thorn" and Agnes played the love sick young male lead.  Her ability to play a cross gendered lead speaks to the fluidity of her personal sexuality.  It takes a very special woman to play a male role as a man and to be defined within that role as the lover of a young woman takes even more gumption.  I have witnessed roles cast across gender and seen distress at the idea of what people might think about the actress playing the part.

Love Knows No Sex
"You know when I was a little girl I was my mother's despair.  I was a bit of a tomboy I suppose.  I know  I used to like to lie flat on my stomach in the wet grass and drink cool water from a spring on my grandparent's farm in Ohio and then I would do home with the front of my dress all grass stained and muddy and it would cause quite a "to do.""  I can imagine that pinafored young lady coming home muddy and grass stained.  I was only ever forced into a dress on Sundays for the very same reason.  It speaks to her sense of freedom does it not?  To admit you were a tomboy when the masses were whispering about her sexuality already.  It is why I have always believed she viewed passion and love as an emotion shared between human beings but not necessarily between male and female or any combination therein contained.  These were standards that were accepted before 1920, standards she had be reared with.  Sex was something quite different from love and love was like bread you could fill yourself with it and still want more, more, more.  Interest in the physical wanes with time but love will link you with another human being forever.

Inertia And Its Beauty
There are people who have read the Boze Hadleigh interview with Agnes and dismissed it.  I think they read it with the idea that it couldn't possibly be true and most definitely searched for any reason they could to point out that would make it untrue.  I read it with the idea that I wasn't there and I could not judge its truth or validity.  Then I reread Quint Benedetti's book.  He taped the classes at Agnes' acting school.  He was grateful that he had because he still had her words to listen to and I am grateful he recorded them because I believe without knowing it he has proven the Boze Hadleigh interview is indeed valid.  How you may ask? With this word, interia, yes inertia.  In one of the lectures Benedetti taped Agnes talked about inertia and in Boze Hadleigh's interview Agnes talked about, yes indeed, inertia.  Not a common word at all.  Certainly not one used as a descriptor in everyday conversation.

Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of an object to resist any change in its motion. Agnes stated to Hadleigh that "Life tires one out-not alot but increasingly.  One can't underestimate inertia....inertia is the result of our struggles, my boy."  It was a hallelujah moment for me.  I had connected the two with a word that wasn't exposed as a conversational word for Agnes until well after Hadleigh's book had be written and published.  Benedetti writes, "..It’s just calculated to produce shock which will lead to lesser shock and lesser shock ending up in inertia."  I think I have just fallen in love with the word inertia!

"Well I Have Loved Women Of Course."
" But I don't want anyone misinterpreting what was beautiful and even spiritual."  Spiritual love was an enormously Victorian idea.  That was the whole point for romantic friendship between women, a spiritual connection with one another.  Love of one soul for another soul.  I don't care one bit to know with whom she shared this beautiful and spiritual love.  That isn't the point of it at all.  The heart of the matter is to respect that and to be grateful that she chose to tell someone about it before her passing.   Agnes could have ended the interview without uttering any of these words.  Hadleigh offered to turn off his tape recorder and she counters with " Leave it on. Leave it on.  You apparently have your informants.  I don't know what you've heard and I don't want to hear, and some of it may even be true."   She could have stopped at any time.  Barbara Stanwyck threw Hadleigh out of her house.  Agnes did not, she made the choice to speak.   She emoted the Victorian spirit in all of its purity, "With two women, it's more difficult to know where love leaves off and the other begins, with men it's clearer."  She continues with, "A woman may love a person who is this or that, male or female.  Love doesn't have a sex.  It's men who have to bring sex and activities into everything....Women operate on a different plane; the feelings are emotional not physical."  Pure Victorian and beautiful in every sense of the word.  It is a humanist view.  Here is this beautiful woman, a grand dame of the entertainment industry, showing us the beauty of her soul.  Think of the juxtaposition that this Victorian view has with her religious sensibility.  She had the ability to be two different people maybe three different people as I see it.  She was also smart enough to  know that what she was saying was truly controversial and as she says, "If I make a statement to you now, it will be used and misinterpreted and one way or another  it will represent me, if it's controversial or shocking enough, in who knows how many books.  On the screen or in a book, even a famous supporting actress never receives the same in depth....the amount of time that any star, great or indifferent, always receives.  As an actress I'm used to this.  I have no option, as a person I do.
My life has been as long as any, I've had to struggle more than most people in my very privileged profession and although my career might be described or capsulized in a few paragraphs by some writers, I won't let that happen to my life.  Certainly not to my private life, having others try to understand or illuminate me, all in the space of one or two pages."  It bears out in a phrase that she constantly repeated, "I know what I'm about."  She certainly did, without any doubt, know what she was about.  Every nuance of every personality she let show was a result of a disciplined spirit that understood the rules of the world and how they must dictate your life but that they could not dictate your spirit, they could not dictate your heart, the could not dictate your soul.
That was a task left to her and her alone.  A part of her guarded by pillars and mirrors and mazes that only the owner could show anyone safely through.

Next installment:  Forensic Conclusions Are More Difficult Than You Will Ever Know!

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