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.