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.

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