Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

The Holiday Season

The Mystery of Love

In 1890 a book was written called "The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained."  It was intended to be a guide for young men and women, primarily women, that would educate them in the "science" of love.  I stumbled across a picture of the cover in another blog and decided to read it for myself.  While looking at it I suddenly realized that this would be the kind of reading that a young woman in the 1900's would peruse.  The copy I found on line was a 1920's reprint so it was still in use at that time.  Agnes was a forward thinking woman and I am sure she would have taken it upon herself to learn the things she should know about life.  However, a learning experience is only as good as the information one can obtain.  Agnes studied biology and was undoubtedly aware of the nature of human reproductive mechanics but what biology couldn't teach her were the mechanics of emotions, feelings, urges and how to act on them.  She came from a religious environment that viewed sex as original sin.  She lived in an emotionally dysfunctional environment that taught the value of abstinence, virginity and the sanctimony of matrimony and yet her life was an emotional roller coaster probably because she spent it attempting to reconcile her feelings with her spirituality.  I thought we should take a walk through this manual and see how it compared with Agnes.

"Prudery and Flirtation are both equally culpable, but between these two extremes there is a happy medium.  Neither religion nor the properties of life require a young lady to be ascetic and disagreeable; and if she has recourse to prudery as a safeguard she must be strangely afflicted with that weakness of conceit..."  This is a lesson that Agnes learned well.  You can watch nearly any of her movies made in the 1940's or 1950's and see how well she mastered it.  She used flirtation in a way the majority of people cannot.  Throughout her career most of her die hard fans were women.  She learned the power she had and she used it.  It flowed off the screen and into the audience where young women became enraptured by this powerful woman.  Agnes managed to find the midpoint between prudery and flirtation.  She was skillful at figuring out how to broadcast those intentions that were never made clear via scripting and she captured her audience with them.  She openly flirted with women especially as she aged because the intentions were so well hidden that only people looking for it would find it.  To her dying day the majority of her fans were women and still are.

How To Know That You Are Really In Love
"Many young people, particularly the male kind, imagine themselves in love when in truth they are not."    A lesson not well learned by Agnes.  She never learned how to trust someone enough to truly love them.   Perhaps it was her dual nature and the fact that she was very aware that behavior that does not conform to societal norms is dangerous.  She admitted herself that she had  never sought love out and it would have to have come to her.  I don't think if love had driven up in a bus marked love she would have really trusted it to be what it said it was.  An interview in the 1960's revealed her opinion of people, she said that they always let you down and you cannot trust them.  She loved her sister and her sister left her.  She loved, worshiped, her father and he left her.  Love was never something she was going to find because she didn't look for it she hid from it.

"This is a powerful weapon in the art of making love."  Agnes mastered flattery the minute she learned that a look was powerful beyond words.  Any glance at a photo of a young Agnes Moorehead shows you that she knew this device and knew how to use it.

Pet Names
Bobby...enough said.

The Love Code
Art 1: The source of love lies in two of the purest sentiments admiration and hope.
I think Agnes understood this and I think it is why she never sought love after the death of her sister.  I think Agnes loved her sister in the purest way, admiration, however, I also think that her sister's betrayal of that pure love is what drove her away from actively seeking someone to love her as purely.  Agnes knew that her sister understood her, hence the reference to "you have never loved a man like I have," in her postmortem letter to her sister.  Agnes loved on a different level and like every close set of siblings she discussed it with her sister.  Her sister used her trust as a weapon when they fell out over it the year before Peggy's death.  Agnes' ability to trust anyone died right along with Peggy.  Without trust there can be no admiration or hope.
Art 2: Love is difficult to define; what we can say is, that in the soul it is a ruling passion, in the mind a lively sympathy, and in the body it is only a secret and delicate desire of possessing the object beloved, after many mysterious preliminaries.
Agnes believed that a woman loved on a different plane than a man.  That she could love someone who was "this or that, male or female" and that it went far beyond the "mysterious preliminaries" referred to above.  In her mind love was empathic and came from the soul not from the body.
Art 3: Love is like a fever; it begins and ends without volition having the least part in the matter.
This baffles me honestly.  Yes love is fickle but I believe it stems from the lack of true connection on a spiritual level with the person you love.  I think Agnes thought that as well.  She commented in an interview with Boze Hadleigh that she didn't want people peering in on her love life because she didn't want them to misunderstand what was "beautiful and even spiritual."
Art 4: The deepest love betrays itself by the most ridiculous appearances; by extreme timidity, for example, or awkward bashfulness.
In other words don't let your feelings show in untoward ways.  People will know how you feel and whom you feel it about.  Mask your feelings and show them privately.  Agnes took this to heart and learned to spend her entire life masking her feelings.
Art 5: The lover is near happiness who begins to doubt of the bliss which he had promised himself and reflects most severely upon the reasons he had seen for hope.
Question your bliss and look for what you hoped you might have.  I cannot say if Agnes really took this to heart, but, I suspect she might have understood it.  She lived with Jack Lee for nearly twenty years and that is something she could never had done if she hadn't hoped for something else.
Art 6: In love contrary to almost all other passions the memories of the past are always superior to the hopes of the future.
Agnes lived on her memories in her later years.  She clung to them and used them as strength to carry on in solitude.  Even though she protested to need a certain amount of solitude her reference to beautiful and spiritual love shows that she had some type of relationship that she deemed worthy of living for.
Art 7: The moment most fatal to love is when the lover finds himself treated with contempt and when he must destroy the beautiful chimera, which he has taken so much pain to construct.
I found the definition of chimera to be most interesting, especially when used in this context and very illuminating on Agnes' view of herself.  The definition of chimera is " A chimera or chimaera is a single organism that is composed of two or more different populations of genetically distinct cells that originated from different zygotes involved in sexual reproduction." 
A chimera is by its very nature duel.  Agnes had a duel nature she admitted it freely during the Hadleigh interview.  I think this may be how she saw herself.  A single individual made of two or more entirely different things.

Tomorrow the remaining Arts...and their interpretation......Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 23, 1956

Agnes Moorehead sent her friends old English style mistletoe balls, 15 inches in diameter trimmed in red velvet ribbons and antique ornaments.  This is the seventh year she has followed this custom.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Through The Mirror of The Mind

A man named Eric Hoffer once said, " With some people solitariness is an escape not from others but from themselves.  For they see in the eyes of others only a reflection of themselves."  I was watching a clip of Agnes performing a piece taken from Marcel Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" in which she talks of Madame Swann the former Odette de Crecy.  She recounts the reaction of Odette to different men in the crowd and how regal she was.  She also mentions Odette's fondness for the color mauve.  Agnes wore mauve or lavender every opportunity she got. What is never mentioned in the piece is something I'm sure that Agnes herself was very aware of having read Proust's works, Charles Swann suspects Odette of liaisons with other women. It struck me that like Odette Agnes observed life from a distance and like Odette she was quite the chameleon adapting to every situation presented to her with great aplomb. Like Odette she lived beyond the bounds of accepted sexuality.  It made me sit back and take a look at the people Agnes often spoke of or performed works by or even idolized as a teenager.  It proved to be quite an interesting and illuminating exploration.

La Duse
Let us begin with the actress that idolized as a teenager, Eleonora Duse.  La Duse was one of the greatest actresses of her time.  She played many Shakespearean roles.  She portrayed heroines from nineteenth-century French dramas.  She also introduced the drama of Ibsen and d'Annunzio to the stage.  She was an incredible woman.  She was also equally well known for her love affairs with men but she was infamous for her affairs with women.  In 1909, La Duse began an affair with a  feminist named Lina Poletti.  Lina dressed as a man.  The affair was an intense romantic inferno that consumed Duse.  Aside from Lina Duse was involved with Isadora Duncan as well as several young actresses she mentored among them Emma Grammatica and a singer named Yvette Guilbert.  As a young girl Agnes wrote Eleonora a letter and asked for a signed picture which she ultimately received.  It became her most treasured possession.  Ultimately Agnes ended up naming one of her beloved dogs Duse in homage to the woman herself.

Another actress that Agnes speaks of and actually portrayed herself was Sarah Bernhardt.  Sarah was a very vivid and complex individual.  Her name became synonymous with glamor and drama.  She was often called "the mother of all divas," Sarah was nearly as famous for her sumptuous, flamboyant style as she was for her skillful portrayals on stage.  Sarah was so much more than just a stage personality.  She was an accomplished painter, a sculptress, an outstanding business woman who ran her own theaters and acted as producer for her own plays.  She wore pants.  She played men on stage in many plays.  She had numerous love affairs not only with men but with women.  She was somewhat of a template for Agnes I think, right down to the hair color.

One of Agnes' favorite musicians was the incredible harpsichordist Wanda Landowska.  Agnes did a reading from a book by Landowska and it was televised.  Many of us have seen it and it can be found on YouTube.  Landowska herself was a lesbian.  Landowska frequented the salon of Natalie Clifford Barney in Paris.  Natalie was an expatriate American who held regular soirees at her salon in Paris and Landowska often played at these.  The gatherings themselves were organized to promote the works of women writers.  Landowska herself, like many of these women including Agnes, was well known for her exquisite dress and stage decorations.  Her music was sublime as well.  Landowska had a beautiful voice and it is said that many just wanted to hear her speak, especially when she spoke French with just a hint of her elegant Polish accent.  Sounds a great deal like our Agnes doesn't it?  In 1933 Landowska met a woman named Denise Restout.  Restout would be her companion for the rest of her life.

Edna St. Vincent Millay
In her one woman show Agnes did a piece from one of her favorite writers, Edna St. Vincent Millay, called "The Ballad of the Harp Weaver."  Millay was a free thinker.  She published a book of poetry in 1922 called "A Few Figs from Thistles."  In this book Millay put forth the idea that a woman has every right to sexual pleasure and no obligation to fidelity.  Millay was very outspoken about her view of sexuality.  In "Great Companions," Max Eastman tells a story that reveals something of Millay's attitude toward her own sexuality.  While at a cocktail party Millay discussed her recurrent headaches and was asked by a psychologist, "I wonder if it has ever occurred to you that you might perhaps, although you are hardly conscious of it, have an occasional impulse toward a person of your own sex?"  Millay responded with, "Oh, you mean I'm homosexual!  Of course I am and heterosexual too, but what's that got to do with my headache?'  Honestly it bears an overwhelming resemblance to Agnes' own statement of, "A woman may love a person who is this or that, male or female..."

In The End
As humans we tend to like the things that remind us of ourselves.  We idolize the people we would like to emulate.  Agnes was no different in most ways.  She did isolate herself, her true self.  She was more solitary than most in Hollywood but then she had more to loose if she exposed her true nature.  Some folks are content to believe she had no idea, in the words of Debbie Reynolds, what the word lesbian meant.  I think they are afraid to look at the big picture.  They don't want to know that this brilliant, erudite woman was a free thinker, a person who had lived beyond the boundaries of what they perceive as normal.  But she did and she did it so beautifully, so spiritually, so magnificently that it is a disservice to the woman not to recognize how complex and brilliant she was.


From Renascence:
She is neither pink nor pale,
And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,
And her mouth on a valentine.
She has more hair than she needs;
In the sun `tis a woe to me!
And her voice is a string of coloured beads,
Or steps leading into the sea.
She loves me all that she can,
And her ways to my ways resign;
But she was not made for any man,
And she never will be all mine.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Who Are You or Back to Body Language Basics

When you see someone practically everyday, I speak of course of the reruns of "Bewitched," you begin to confuse who they really are with who they appear to be.  The reason for that is simple and two fold:
1. You see them in controlled situations portraying a character.
2. You see them in public situations portraying a character.
We have all come to "know" Agnes Moorehead as Endora.  Have we ever seen Agnes Moorehead as Agnes Moorehead though?  Yes we have but like so many things having to do with her we have had to learn to interpret what we are seeing.  I've said before that the easiest way to know what she was really thinking was to look at her eyes.  The eyes are, after all, the windows of the soul.  Add to the windows the non verbal communication of the body and you may just have a reasonably clear picture of the woman.

From Head to Toe
Recently the picture above was posted to a blog I follow.  The tag says 1972 but doesn't say where she was when this was taken or who she was talking to but the picture speaks volumes even without that information.
The first thing to look at is the position of her head.  A sideways tilt of the head demonstrates interest and an engagement in playful conversation with someone that is well liked.  A sideways tilt with a smile indicates interest, playfulness and perhaps even flirtation.  Tilting can also indicate curiosity, uncertainty or query, particularly if the head is tilted forward as if the person were trying to look at the subject in a different way in hope of seeing something new.  The greater the tilt, the greater the uncertainty or the intent to send the signal of uncertainty. Simple and straightforward right?  No, not really, because of the position of her hand.  The proximity of her hand to her mouth indicates that she wants to say something but feels restrained from saying it and needs to hide it.   It also may indicate that she is uncertain about something.  Hands at the mouth can also be used as a cover for the neck, where blushing, swallowing and tension may be seen.  It is also used as a method for controlling the hands preventing them from giving other non verbal clues.  The placement of the hand on her cheek intimates that she is thinking and evaluating the situation.  Typically if the head is propped up by the hand it indicates either tiredness or an expectation of continued interest. Touching the chin can indicate that thinking is taking place involving decision making and judging of others.

Moving to the eyes there two things that stand out.
1. She's winking.
2. She is looking directly at someone.
Winking is a very deliberate gesture.  We rarely do it without some thought behind it.  The two things that are repeated over and over again about winking are that it is a sign of flirtation and is often conspiratorial, meaning "You and I both understand but others do not!"  Follow that with a direct gaze with a semi smile and you have her speaking with someone she is very, very interested in.  The eyes can rarely be camouflaged well by even the most experienced individual.

Then we move to body position and we are right back in Contradictionville.  When your first glance at the picture you see what appears to be a casual posture.  You would be wrong.  The posture from the shoulders down is far from casual.  Every vulnerable part of the body below the shoulders is covered and protected.  The heart is covered with the arm supporting the chin.  The pelvis is closed by crossed legs and an arm placed squarely across the lap.  The stomach is covered by the arms and bent inward.  All of these total up to a closed body position. But then you look at the trunk of her body and you see it leans forward and sideways.  When you lean forward toward the person you are talking to you tend to increase the verbal output of that person, but, when you lean sideways it tends to indicate that you are interacting with someone you see as being a lower status individual.  On the other hand you have a body orientation that turns the shoulders and legs directly toward the other person indicating a supportive climate.  What this is called is the adoption of non congruent posture indicating attitudinal and perceptual differences or relationship distance.

The Body of Work

This process has prompted me to go back, yet again, through my pictures looking for patterns and similarities.  Another eye opening couple of hours for me I must say.  It never ceases to amaze me how much you can interpret a person by simply looking at photographs of them.  Real photographs where they display their true selves unwittingly to those taking those pictures.

Take these photographs for example.  They have something very important in common.  Hand position.

The placement of hands over or near the mouth can indicate some very powerful things.  In the top photo the hand is directly in front of the mouth indicates uncertainty, a lack of confidence and a feeling of being restrained from saying something.  The position of the hand in the lower picture indicates uncertainty and a lack of confidence as well.  Although the bottom picture is posed she still clearly displays the underlying feelings of uncertainty and lack of self confidence.  Agnes Moorehead and a lack of confidence just don't seem to go together but there you are.  Her duality was hidden in plane sight in front of us all.

Hands near the mouth again.  A feeling of uncertainty,being restrained and a lack of self confidence.
Then we take a wild jump to the other side of the chessboard with the two pictures below!

Look at her command of both these situations! Notice the palm down position of one hand in each photo.  Palm down is an indication of authority, strength and dominance.  In the top photo the position of her hand indicates defiance or firm disagreement.  In the bottom photo it is a sign of authority and because of the placement over her knees self protection. 

The position of her hand here, near and over the chest or heart area, indicates a desire to be believed as well as being protected.
This picture is a plethora of mixed signals.  She is defensive because she has covered her entire trunk yet she has a genuine smile and has dropped one leg leaving her pelvis partially exposed.

Notice the closing of the pelvis yet it is tilted toward the person she is talking to just like the photograph that prompted this adventure.  I only wish I knew who was garnering this attention.  Her gaze is direct and she doesn't feel that she needs to cover her face or her neck with her hands. While her hands are placed in front of her as protection she is not threatened at all.

She never looks at her mother. What is more she has exactly the same smile in both photographs.  We see that she either stares down indicating submission to her mother or looks away from her toward a particular point in the distance.  You can interpret the looking away as a desire to escape because she is pinpointing a potential exit or boredom and distraction.  Her mother is willing to look at her but not up at her and demonstrates her dominance by maintaining a level head position while glancing up.

The hands on the hips with the fingers pointed backwards indicates a submissive posture combined with a need be protected by being larger than the person she submitting to most likely her mother.

Hands on hips palms forward indicates dominance.  The display is likened to a peacock displaying its tail to demonstrate dominance.  She needs to display her confidence openly her, to be completely in charge of what is going on around her.

A common public combination for her is covering her upper body in a posture of defense and crossing her legs toward someone else while tilting her pelvis toward them.  There are easily 20 years between these two photographs yet her body posture and non verbal displays are nearly identical.  Non congruent displays can be found in many of her pictures demonstrating her duel nature.

Bottom line is that Agnes was a woman of contradictions.  Contradictions that are there for those willing to look, willing to see past the strong characters she often played, willing to look at the woman behind the face.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


There are a couple of moments in the movie Beetlejuice that always makes me think of Robert Gist, "Hey, these aren't my rules! Come to think of it, I don't have any rules!" and when Adam asks Beetlejuice his "qualifications", "Ah. Well...I attended Julliard...I'm a graduate of the Harvard Business school.  I travel quite extensively.  I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that.  I've seen the Exorcist 167 times and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it.  Not to mention the fact that you're talking to a dead guy!  Now what do you think!? You think I'm qualified?"  Why, you may well ask, do these remind me of Robert Gist?  Because my friends Robert and Beetlejuice have two very important things in common;
  1. They're both ass hats.
  2.  They both have no soul or conscience what so ever.

I have suspected for a long time that Gist was basically a beard, a bigamist and a gigolo.  Well today while running through my family trees and updating things with the 1940 census stuff I came across a little tidbit that left me gob smacked.  It turns out that Robert Gist's never discussed and never seen again first wife Louise Van Dyke is on the 1940 census in Chicago.  That isn't the gob smacked bit...don't want you to think I'm easily excitable.  This is the gob smacking bit of information...Louise is listed as a single woman of twenty years of age and head of her two person household and her partner, yes it says that on the census lest we think it is invention of the modern age, was a private nurse named E Lucinda Graves.  E Lucinda Graves has an occupation but Louise doesn't and Louise is the head of the household.  It seems that E Lucinda Graves was the sole earner in the apartment and Louise sat home doing what???  This set me off on a tangent to find both of these gals and see what they were about.

Edith Lucinda Graves was born in Iowa in 1916 and died in Texas in 1985.  She never married, ever.  Louise Van Dyke was born in Iowa around 1920.  I have yet to find an exact birth date because apparently once Louise married Robert Gist on August the 18th 1943 she vanished off of the face of the earth.  I found her on the 1930 census living in Chariton, Iowa with her parents and several sisters.  Doesn't it just make you scratch your head?  Aren't you just dying to know what ever became of Louise?  Don't you wonder why in the world she married Robert when she was so comfortably settled with Lucinda?  Me too! 

I will tell you this much that in 1943, just as it is today, the military pays you more if you're married and supporting a spouse.  We know from enlistment records that Robert joined the military on January 28, 1941 and that he had four years of college, was single and an actor.  We assume that Robert was a gunnery officer during the Guadalcanal campaign during World War II, at least he says so in an article in the Hayward Review of 1944 as he went to New York to join the cast of Harvey, and that he came down with malaria forcing his discharge due to ill health.  The battle at Guadalcanal ended February 8th, 1943. We also know that Agnes referred to Robert as the "Malaria Kid" in a communication with Paul Gregory which means either Robert did contract malaria or he was the consummate liar...take your pick and you'll likely be right either way. While wasting away from malaria Robert married Louise 6 months after the end of the battle of Guadalcanal.  Robert allegedly survived 3 major engagements at Guadalcanal without a scratch and was felled by the common mosquito. Three engagements at Guadalcanal?? Really Robert, three and you're sticking to that are you?  Kids, Guadalcanal lasted 6 months and basically was one long, very long engagement.  The incubation time for malaria is 8 to 25 days.  Six months is 180 days, give or take, and if he contracted malaria it would have most likely been toward the end of the battle.  Which means he would have been hospitalized for recuperation and then discharged.  Robert claims that he went from a weight of 175 to a weight of 128 while battling malaria and yet 6 months after the battle he marries Louise Van Dyke.  What a guy, what a miraculous recovery, what a load of horse manure.  I'm not saying he didn't contract the disease but do the math it just doesn't add up.  By November first of 1944 Robert was on his way to Broadway and his lovely wife, well she just isn't there any more, no mention, not one little blurb, nothing. What inquiring minds want to know is whatever happened to Louise Van Dyke Gist?? HMMMM??

There is no evidence of a divorce, yet, and there is no documentation of a death.  Louise just vanishes into air, into thin air.  Robert wanders off in or around 1948 to 1949 and begins his courtship of Agnes.  Hey know what I think?  I think Robert never divorced Louise and I think Louise went on living with Lucinda  and I think that Robert had stuff on Agnes and Agnes had stuff on him....explain away the five to six years it took for Agnes to divorce Robert if, as it was claimed during the proceedings, Robert urged Agnes to go to Mexico and obtain a quick divorce.  Never happened..did it because in no book anywhere is five to six years of back and forth arguing about property, money, and everything else quick!!!  It was scripted courtroom drama designed to distract the reader from the real question.  Robert was a consummate professional who went into the relationship knowing it would never be a long lasting one and believe that having had one questionable marriage under his ever broadening belt that Robert documented everything.  Agnes, on the other hand, was a little too trusting with this man and she got burned financially because of it but only because there was a whole lot more to her than anyone knew and Robert, gunnery officer at Guadalcanal, literally used it as a loaded weapon to hold her hostage until he got exactly what he wanted.  None of it slowed him down one bit.  Two "wives" and three children happened while he was still legally married to Agnes...not bad for a guy with malaria, huh?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Love Is An Illusion

The last documented conversation, if you can call it that, between Agnes and her sister Peggy ended with a verbal bucket of cold water in Agnes' face as Peggy told her "you have never loved a man like I have."  The more I learn of the relationship between these two unusual women the more I am amazed.  Just recently I learned that Peggy was an ardent fan of Isadora Duncan.  We all have idols but given the alleged, I say that because of the new light in which I have begun to view these two.  Today I read the following quote by Isadora Duncan it says; "Love is an illusion; it is the world's greatest mistake.  I ought to know for I've been loved as no other woman of my time has been loved."  It's so telling.  Peggy idolized a woman who believed that love was an illusion and yet scolded her sister for having never loved a man like she had.  It shows that Peggy too was as conflicted an individual as her sister.  It strikes me as odd that these two lived in such a dream world while grounded firmly in the world of the Presbyterian church.  Perhaps it was the world of the church that drove them both to be so outside the box.

Isadora Duncan was no typical woman.  She was flamboyant, immune to scandal.  She completely rejected Christianity for classical and Neitzchian philosophy.  She was wrapped up in the idea of neopaganism and read tarot cards for her friends, complete strangers and herself. Took lovers like most people take showers and had female lovers as well as male.  Not the least of whom was Eleanora Duse, Agnes' idol.   How exactly does the daughter of a Presbyterian minister become enamored of a woman who believes that everything her father the preacher stands for is tantamount to wearing braces on the brain but feel constrained enough by her upbringing to scold her elder sister for her romantic choices and then proceed to dance nude in the outdoors.  It leaves me boggled honestly.  I would give my eye teeth to read a journal written by this woman.

You can't have a conversation about Peggy without addressing Agnes' complete worship of Eleanora Duse.  Agnes wrote to Duse as a young girl and received a reply which she treasures her whole life. She even went so far as to name one of her beloved dogs Duse.   Eleanora was an actress of great stature.  She was considered one of the first ladies of the stage and like Isadora was eccentric, outrageous and way outside the box.  She was married.  Her husband died.  Eleanora went on to have series of lovers male and female.  In 1909 Eleanora began a relationship with a young feminist named Lina Poletti.  Lina dressed as a man in public as well as in private.  La Duse also had the relationship with Isadora that I had mentioned in a previous blog.  She mentored several young actresses.  One of them was Emma Gramatica who became totally devoted to Duse.  Then there was Yvette Gilbert with whom La Duse maintained a very long lasting intimate friendship.  Oddly enough Eleanora held the church in very high regard and often lamented that her life as an actress had subsumed her role as wife and mother.  I see some very, very interesting coincidences here between Agnes and her idol.

I often ask myself if Agnes believed that love was even possible for her. She once said in an interview, a very telling interview, that "I don't know why I shut it out, she confesses, I don't know why. I haven't sought it, it would have to come to me. I can't go out and get involved in some scandalous affair..I owe something to the public that has kept me going. And, I'm not really alone. I have many pets, three dogs and three birds. And then there are the two who work for me. One has been with me for 20 years and the other 14. They look after me and take good care of me. As for personal loves you can't always depend on a human being, you know. Then again, I seem to need a certain amount of solitude. It renews me. Solitude enriches ones being..... "  When I read this I read pain between the lines.  "I don't know why I shut it out," it says volumes with her choice of the words "shut it out."  Yet she remembers her past loves fondly in her interview with Boze Hadleigh intimating that she would not allow something to be ruined that was "beautiful and even spiritual."  I read into the choice of shutting things out that she was confined by her sexuality and unable to openly express how she felt about any given lover because it could get you black listed, institutionalized and utterly shatter your existence like a brick through a window.

The interviewer that got the whole shutting out phrase out of her also said of Agnes, "She is gracious, professional, sincere, interested, and impersonal. Lacking the terrible hardness of many other long established celebrities, her flexibility of manner is something like that of a good fencing foil, which can be bent into a circle without breaking yet is made of finely tempered steel. For openers, she skates around for a long while on the edge of things."  Bendable, flexible, adaptable she was all of these things and more.  A chameleon who changed her personality to suit whatever was being thrown at her.  Molly quipped " I don't know why Agnes twists the truth."  I do.  Would you look at your fundamentalist mother and talk about your personal life which involved being either bisexual or lesbian...don't think so...nope I sure don't think so.  You'd learn the pronoun dance, as I like to call it, changing she to he, girlfriend to boyfriend and you'd learn to cover your tracks any way you had to because the wrath of a fundamentalist is not a pretty picture.  Even though Agnes herself claimed to be fundamentalist she was merely, in my opinion, a convenient bible thumper.  I don't question her faith one bit but she was open and accepting of things that fundamentalists will expound to you will earn you eternal damnation.

Perhaps it was Peter Opp Jr. that really gives us the true road map to Agnes.  He said after she had passed away that, "A pretzel has less twists than our departed friend possessed."  Most of the commonly told stories about Agnes are most likely fiction of some sort.  Most of her life was made up in one way or another.  She lived in her head and did it more successfully than anyone I have ever known, however, it appears that now she has not competition but a companion in the guise of her sister Peggy.  I hope, pray, beg that the universe graces me with some more information on Peggy.  Being a fellow free spirit with demons like her sister goes a long way toward explaining why Peggy's death hit her sister so very hard.  Two pearls they are and with age, like pearls, they are growing a lustrous appearance that so many of us enjoyably envy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Never Fear

I am alive and well Big K.  I have been dealing with recuperation and some other family stuff but I plan to get back to steady input as soon as the dust settles! Take care.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Warning Free Spirit In Full Flight

The Urban Dictionary defines a free spirit as someone who is not restrained, as by convention or obligation; a nonconformist. defines it as a person with a highly individual or unique attitude, lifestyle, or imagination; nonconformist.  In every definition you read the word nonconformist comes up again and again.  What has this got to do with anything, I can see your eyebrows knitting together from here, well a great deal more than you might ever imagine.  What would you say if I told you that someone who has often been portrayed as quiet and unassuming was really a nonconformist "free spirit" in disguise?  It's a story with much to tell which makes some very important pieces of a puzzle fall into place further clarifying something that has been and doubtless will continue to be a mystery with all the twists and turns of an amusement park ride.

Any Pretty Thing That Came Into Her Head
The story begins with Isadora Duncan.  For those of you who don't know, I doubt there are many who don't, Isadora Duncan was a dancer, a teacher of dance, a philosopher, an artist and a bohemian.  She began teaching dance at the age of six using a method of incorporating fantasy into movement and teach "any pretty thing that came into her head."  Isadora went to Chicago where she auditioned for and was picked up by Template:Augustin Daly's Company.  With this company she traveled to New York where her ideas of dance clashed rather dramatically with the accepted norms of the time.  Ultimately she left the company moving to London in 1898.  She performed in drawing rooms taking her inspiration from scenes she found on Greek urns.  She was able to save enough to rent a studio which allowed her to expand her vision to a larger stage.   She went from London to Paris creating productions drawing her inspiration from the Louvre and the Great Exhibition of 1900. In 1902 she was visited by Loie Fuller and Fuller invited Duncan to tour Europe with her.  She did exactly that creating new works using her innovative dance technique.  Her style consisted of a focus on natural movement instead of the rigid controlled technique of ballet.  She danced bare footed and in a white Greek chiton.  Chitons are made of very sheer fabric and she was for all intents and purposes nude because she wore no foundation garments underneath as this would have inhibited her freedom of movement.

Way Outside The Box
Isadora Duncan was a revolutionary individual in so many different ways.  In both her professional and private lives, Duncan flouted traditional mores and morality. She was openly bisexual.  She believed in free love.  She had two children out of wedlock.  Her daughter Dierdre was fathered by theatre designer Gordon Craig and was born September 24 1906 and her son Patrick was fathered by Paris Singer and was born on May 1, 1910.  Both children died in an accident on the Seine River April 19, 1913.  After avoiding a collision with another vehicle the car had stalled.  The driver neglected to put on the parking brake and the car rolled across the Boulevard Bourdon down an embankment and into the Seine.  The two children as well as their nanny drowned.  During her recuperation she spent a great deal of time with Elenora Duse at the Viareggio seaside resort.  The fact that Duse was just out of a relationship with the rebellious young lesbian feminist Lina Poletti added fuel to speculation that there was a relationship between Duncan and Duse.  In fact the father's of both of her children can be tied to prominent lesbians of the era.  Gordon Craig's sister Edy lived in a menage a trois with Christabel Marshall and Clare "Tony" Atwood. They were referred to by Radcliffe Hall and her lover Una Troubridge as "the boys."  And Isaac Singer was the brother of Wineretta Singer who left a string of broken hearts across several continents.  Suffice it to say stories have placed Isadora in the bed of both Duse and Singer.  She lived so far outside the box of accepted Victorian normality that it was truly revolutionary.

Another Free Spirit is Born
Those of you who have read my blog for awhile know that my blog is generally about Agnes Moorehead.  Well darlings this one is no different and this is why.  We have all labored under the apparent misconception that Agnes was the family rebel with her acting and emoting and generally being the square peg in the round hole, not so much my sweets, not so much.  Charles Tranberg has made the statement that Agnes was an extrovert like her mother and Peggy was shy and retiring like her father.  It has made me scratch my head with wonder for years quite honestly because the whole idea of Peggy not living with her parents, spending the majority of her free time with her sister, and the apparent uproar that occurred before her death, at least with her mother, does not fit that shy or retiring pattern.  Lo and behold it seems that our Peggy was not the timid little quiet wallflower that we had been lead to believe she was.  Peggy had an idol.  An idol whose hose ideas and philosophies she apparently took quite seriously.  Her idol was non other than the grand mistress of modern dance Isadora Duncan.  So taken with Isadora's philosophy of dance was Peggy that she, allegedly, danced out side in the nude.  Now this comes from a reliable source to me and the source was told by someone who knew Mollie, Agnes, and obviously Peggy.  As far as I can tell Dr. George Perry the teller of the story lived in their neighborhood as a young man.  Since the girls spent time with their parents in the summer, a time that would lend itself to nude dancing in Wisconsin, he most likely witnessed it.  BOOOOMMMMM that is the sound of lots of illusions being shattered into a bazillion pieces.  We know that Agnes was a great fan of La Duse.  She named her dog after Eleanora.  It is obvious that both sisters were artistic in different ways.  And so many things make soooo much more sense if Peggy's free thinking nature is taken into consideration.  Isadora did not believe in marriage and if Peggy was attempting to incorporate Isadora's ideals into her life it is possible that she may have been living with the mystery man Frank.  What's more she may have potentially been pregnant.  It would explain the suicide.  It would explain Mollies self described crass behavior.  It seems that neither Moorehead girl was a paragon of virtue.  Agnes herself even said that years later.  I must add that this source knew Peggy had killed herself some forty years ago from the lips of the man, who by the way became a doctor, that had known them when they were younger.

This is, I hope, the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  One that will shed light on this woman we all adore by shedding light on her life.  Neither of these ladies had any sense of fear.  They believed what they believed and did what they thought had to be done.  It makes me love Agnes all the more and so proud to share a genetic heritage with both of them.  Here's to you Peggy and your Free Spirited self !  Here's to you Agnes and your talent, determination and strength! In the words of those of us who tread the boards of the theatre  HUZZAH!!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Stephen I Think We Nee to Talk

Contact me at  I would be fascinated to have you input and information.  I am attempting to organize this flag waving, neon sign over the door, hey does any body but me get this writing into as close to an accurate book of her life that I can.  I think you could give me some insight if you're interested
Let me know! Tamela

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In The Spirit of Debate

Thank you anonymous for your well made points.  But you know I wouldn't be myself if I didn't challenge one or two things. I do so love a good debate!

 First during the filiming of Showboat in 1950 Agnes did not have flaming red tresses.
Anything to the contrary is colorized.  The first big screen debut of the flaming red tresses in color was Magnificent Obsession filmed in 1953 and released in 1954.
Big difference in color, yes? The newspaper article to which I referred is indeed fluff but relatively correct fluff that is dated July 29, 1952.  The date is squarely between the two images above.  This speaks for itself I think so no need to belabor it.

Point two:
I have never debated Agnes' preferring the female gender.  It is obvious she was far more comfortable with women and gay men than she ever was with straight men. She flirted outrageously with both sexes. What I have debated and will debate vigourisly is that there is no more proof that she was purely lesbian than there is proof that she was purely heterosexual.  Everyone seems to be devided into the two camps and insisting that she fit into one or the other.  My point is, always has been, that there is more to sexuality than column one or column two.  There is a column three and that is bisexual.  I don't debate that Jack Lee was a lousy husband and did far more damage than we will ever know.  I don't debate that Robert Gist was a prick and basically blackmailed Agnes.  Nobody has ever used that word but let's call it what it was, blackmail.  Gist made out like a bandit when they divorced and I think the length of the divorce proceedings speaks to the level of information that he had about her and she had about him.  I think, my opinion of course, that Agnes fell between lesbian and bisexual actually.  Most actresses like Janet Gaynor had beards.  They were readily available in Hollywood because there was a market for them. More than likely all the men surrounding these women categorized as "boyfriend" or even "spouse"  were most likely gay themselves and simply were constant escorts.  What I doubt and will always doubt is that Robert Gist was amoung them.  He was a gigolo pure and simple.  He sold himself to further his career.  The whole genre of "beards" served many purposes and benefitted all who partook.  My point with all of my flag waving, neon sign above the obvious, hello does anybody get this but me, writing has been and always will be that Agnes was a sexual enigma.  Everything seems obvious but there is so much more to her than what appears on the surface regardless of how you interpret the surface.  She was, indeed, mistress of misdirection.  I know that because I wrote an entire blog piece about her pretzel like interpretation of reality called Miss Direction.  You are right my pieces do lead one to conclude that she had a strong preference for the female sex.  What I ask for with her, though,  is what I ask for with myself, don't rush to judgement because there is no simple answer.  I have straddled the same fence for years.  I've had long term, 20 plus years, relationships with women and then I fell in love with a man.  I ask for people to be open to the idea that there is no box one way or the other.  That people can go through life loving someone "who is this or that, male or female", as Agnes said in the Boze Hadleigh interview.  That gender is a suitcase and you can pack one as well as the other.  That humans fall on every point along the line of sexuality from straight to gay and back again.  That we formulate ideas and think about her sexuality without the urge to cram her into one box or another.  That we accept that what made her the idol of millions of women over her career, she was attracted to women and they were attracted to her.  Sexuality is fluid in nature as are human beings.

I appreciate the chance for debate.  I relish it.  I think debate is essential in drawing a clear picture of who or what someone was, is or might be.  Continue questioning.  Always look to the obvious and then beyond it.  As I said before there is no simple answer to any of it but knowing that there are people who look at my work and get the point is gratifying.  To all of you who do I applaude your willingness to think outside the box and challenge your own point of view!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Red and Hot!

July 29, 1952, according to the newspapers, is the day the woman the majority of us recognize as Agnes Moorehead was born.  Newspapers stated that on this date Agnes dyed her hair to match the flaming red color of Robert Gists' hair.  We have speculated for a long time exactly what the color of her hair was.  The answer is a dark mahogany color which is classified as a red brown.  Perhaps the more interesting question is why she dyed her hair to match Robert's hair.  The psychology of hair is fascinating and is one of the most researched obscure areas of the human psyche.

Let's begin with the length of her hair. In the book "Reading People How To Understand People and Predict Their Behavior" author Joann Dimitrius says, “Sometimes women with this trait are caught in a time warp and still think of themselves as teenagers or college students rather than as grown-ups. Such women may be fairly unrealistic in their outlook on life as well as in their perception of themselves.”  When I first read this I was completely startled because in retrospect it really fits her personality during her early career and into the 1950's. Agnes shaved years off her age as early as 1927.  At some point between her application to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the establishment of her motion picture career Agnes settled on shaving 6 years off her age.  We've speculated that perhaps the number of years had to do with the birth year of her dead sister.  We'll never really know for sure but one thing is obvious and that is her sensitivity to her age.  I find it fascinating that Agnes graduated from Muskingum with a rebellious bobbed hair cut and ultimately stopped cutting her hair for a period of thirty three years.  It's a demonstration of  the two completely separate personalities that inhabited Agnes.  It has been observed by psychologists that short hair that is carefully cut and styled may reveal an artistic personality. Most high-maintenance hairstyles indicate financial well-being; short hair that requires regular cuts and dyes may reveal that the woman cares about her appearance, and is willing to spend a significant amount of money to look good.  Short hair also a confidence in oneself with the willingness to expose oneself without the protection of hair. So, we go from one extreme to the other during this span of her life.  From artistic and confident to unrealistic and afraid of growing up.

I have colored my hair off and on for years.  I've run the gamut from short to shoulder length.  One thing I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that hair dye is complicated under the best of circumstances.  It takes a minimum of 2 hours to dye shoulder length hair.  Add  about 24 inches to my hair and you are talking 6 or 7 hours of work.  Now once the initial dye job is done you can get away with just doing the roots for a short period of time but hair color fades and color must be reapplied.  Add to that the natural loss of pigmentation, or going gray, that occurs over time and you have a butt load of work to maintain a color.  Color hue has to be managed.  Ends have to be trimmed.  Hair has to be conditioned.  It's a nightmarish amount of work.  Keep in mind that Agnes maintained this look from 1952 until the filming of "How the West Was Won."  That is 10 years of maintenance.  The going rate for a salon in Beverly Hills probably runs into the hundreds of dollars for an initial dye job to $85 for roots and you are talking an enormous amount of money.  Let's calculate shall we.  Roots are done every 6 to 8 weeks.  For the sake of argument we'll say 6 weeks.  That is about once every month and a half.  So roughly 6 times a year you have to spend money doing your roots.  Multiply that by today's rate of $85.00.  That is $510.00 a year.  Multiply that by 10 years and you have $5100.00 worth of hair work in today's money.  Mind boggling when you consider what that means in 1950's money.  One film roll to pay for one year of hair alone.  She maintained an enormous house, designer clothes, travel, a farm in Ohio, her mother, her school, a staff of help and a home in Malibu.  A huge amount of money, huge.

Next consider the psychology of dying your hair to match your mate's.  It is a marking of territory.  A really huge statement about the person's willingness to mark their mate and a really huge statement of insecurity about the relationship.  It is kind of like having your mates name tattooed on your body in a very prominent place.  This person is mine and I'm so scared of loosing them that I have to put their name on my body.  Ask anyone who has ink and they will tell you that inevitably it is a sign of doom for the relationship.    It will end once you tattoo someone on your body, no questions asked.  I've had ink for years and never, ever, ever have I put any one's name on me except my cousins.  I was comfortable with that because family rarely divorces you.  Why oh why would you have a press release drafted about changing your hair color to match your mates unless you wanted to make a point to someone, hmmm???

All the printed information about Agnes' relationship with Robert Gist places their marriage some time between February of 1952 and 1953.  I can tell you this, it wasn't 1952 and here is my reasoning.  Voting has always required identification of some sort.  It wasn't what we go through now but you had to use your legal name or your legally changed name to vote.  The 1952 voter registration lists Agnes as "Mrs. Agnes Moorehead Lee."  It also says that Robert Gist lived at the same address.  I find it hard to believe that she would identify herself as Mrs. Lee if she were already married to Robert Gist.  Nearly every record I can find seems to indicate she did not marry Gist until February 14, 1953 at the earliest and it may have been as late as February 1954.  Yet they openly traveled together as early as 1950.  In addition Agnes' passport was issued to Agnes M. Lee, at least it was in 1951.   At some point between July 23 1951 and the voter registration of 1952 Gist moved into Agnes' home openly.  Prior to that he lived at 3649 Buena Park Drive in Hollywood.

Okay, I see the look of confusion on your face.  You are asking yourself what any of this has to do with hair color and I say stay with me I will get to it, promise.  In November of 1949 a random little article appears in the Southeast Economist newspaper in Chicago.  It talks about Robert's parents visiting him in California and staying with Agnes Moorehead while visiting their son.  I know that I've mentioned this before but it strikes me as odd that they would have stayed with her while visiting her son unless their son was also staying with her.  It adds several years to their relationship that are completely at odds with published information and lends, unfortunately, credibility to Jack Lee's yarn in divorce court about at strange man at their home.  Now it is true that Agnes owned two homes and an apartment building at this point in her career.  Jack got the apartment building in the divorce settlement.  What it does mean is that by July of 1952 this relationship was at nearly 4 years old.  Time enough for the cracks to start showing.  Over and over again newspaper articles mention that the two of them didn't like to be apart.  Paul Gregory mentions Agnes' desire to keep Gist on a short leash.  It all fits with her insecurity about the relationship and her insecurity about herself.

Agnes was granted her divorce from Jack Lee on June 11th, 1952.  As early as February of 1950 she indicated she would marry Gist as soon as she was divorced from Lee.  You can also find contradicting reports quoting her directly as saying that none of it was true.  I do believe that she was aware of Robert's infidelities and that in response to them she became more possessive of him.  She bought her home on Roxbury Drive before she married him.  She never put him on the deed.  Everything she owned was in her name but he still ended up with a substantial amount of her property and money in the settlement.  Did you ever stop to wonder why?  I do.  I also wonder why with her relationship with Gist so evident before she was granted a divorce from Jack Lee why he ended up with so little.  Gist essentially lived with her and yet he is never actually named in the divorce suit.  In addition Gist's infidelity is openly documented by birth records of children born before he is ever divorced from Agnes and yet neither mother is named in a divorce suit.  It all seems rather odd to me.  She says that 17 months after they were married Gist came to her and said she should get a quick Mexican divorce so he could remarry.  17 months equals July 1954 and yet even with another woman calling her up to 3 times a day she doesn't file for divorce until December of 1954.  It appears that she was trying to hang on to his relationship. 

One thing is for sure she hung on to the hair color.  It would be come a thing she would be identified by for the rest of her life.  It commanded attention and she commanded respect.  She found herself again under the ruin of two ruthless relationships.  She reclaimed the defiant young woman who graduated college with bobbed hair by again cutting off the signature long hair.  She stood up and became a beacon for outrageous fashion in the 1960's.  She became Endora and Endora became her.  We all fell in love with her in a way that would continue to claim people for forty years beyond the demise of her physical self.  I thank heaven for whatever insecurity drove her to claim that color and I respect the strength of an indomitable woman who became more than an actress, she became a legend.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

In The Booth In The Back In The Corner In The Dark

Not to long ago someone commented in a post in their blog that they "Wondered when we'll ever see a picture of Margaret."  Another random thing that has led me back to my pile of pictures.  We know that Mollie had photographs of both of her daughters at her home in Reedsburg for all to see.  We know that Mollie occasionally mentioned Peggy, "I had two daughters!" being a retort to a comment about how proud she must be of Agnes.  If Agnes had any pictures of her sister they were not for public consumption and kept away from the eyes of, well, everybody including her housekeepers.  As I was looking at a picture of Agnes taken in 1919 at River View Boat Landing in Racine Wisconsin before she left for college in Muskingum I was struck by the photographs lack of Peggy.  There are all kinds of family in this picture.  Her elusive father is seen kneeling with Mollie seated or rather leaning on his knee.  Agnes is standing next to Aunt Cam.  Mollie has her sister standing on the other side of the woman next to her and her mother on the far right side. It may be the woman standing next to her is also a sister. John has a brother in the back row on the right, his sister Camilla and what may be another brother on the right as well.  Other relatives but no Peggy...or is there.  I had someone tell me once that they believed Peggy wasn't in the photo because there are no children in the photo.  Well yeah that's obvious but wait just a doggone minute define child....seriously define child in the Victorian sense of the word.

Children during the Victorian age and the early years of the twentieth century were considered to be small adults.  They were to be seen and not heard.  It was more than common for children to leave school and work to help support the family as young as 6 years old.  More than that a girl was considered to be of marrying age as soon as she began her period and if that happened young as it did for some, 9 or 10 years old, you could expect to be married off fairly quickly once you turned 13.  13 the magic number...hey wait a minute wasn't Peggy 13 when that picture I referred to was taken?  Yes, yes she was.  I believe that while we've been beating our heads against the rocks looking for Peggy she was right there in front of us all the time.  I've had this picture forever and never noticed it but today, well today is different because I see it now.

Agnes is up front with immediate family but what intrigues me most is the young girl way in the back in the shadows.  How could you have a family celebration with grandparents, parents and cousins but not your sister.  13 was practically marrying age and it certainly was the age at which a young girl became a young feast your eyes on Peggy.  It's a pity that a mere ten years from this she would be dead but at least there is a face to a name.  I've asked the two cousins who remain that would know and trust me that was hard as hell because they are older than Jesus.....97 and 99 respectively.  But they agree that it is last a hunch pans out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Do As I Do Not As I Say

Those of us who have heard the recording "The Lavender Layd" know of  "Aunt Cam."  In a loving reference to her father's sister, Camilla Moorehead, Agnes speaks of her by relating a couple of anecdotes about her.  First the peculiar nature of her speaking voice and second of her concern about her nieces desire to become an actress. "John, she'll get her name in the paper." 

Truthfully I had not considered "Aunt Cam" as a great influence on Agnes.  It's obvious that she spent a great deal of time around her but she never really spoke about her with the exception of her one woman show.  So color me surprised when I turned back to the family tree to finish some things I had started ages ago.  I had always been told that "Aunt Cam" was a spinster but ummm, not so much.  Not only was "Aunt Cam" not a spinster but there are creepy similarities between her and her famous niece.  I have to call them creepy because they are practically identical save one or two small things.

Camilla Urso Moorehead was married to Harold Webster Bay on May 17, 1912 in Muskingum county Ohio.  Not unusual to be married, no sir it surely isn't.  What makes this unusual is the age of the groom and the date they chose to be married.  You see May 17, 1912 was Harold's birthday, his twenty first birthday. Camilla was 14 years older than her groom.  She was thirty five. 

Okay, creepy on two, no, three levels. 
Level One:  Agnes married her first husband on his birthday.  True, although she was not but two years older than him...but still, his birthday, really....was she following her aunt's lead?  I think so.
Level Two: Agnes began divorce proceedings against Jack Lee two weeks after their nineteenth wedding anniversary.  "Aunt Cam" divorced Harold Bay and she did it after exactly nineteen years of marriage.  By December of 1931 Harold had remarried.
Level Three: Hello, is it a coincidence that "Aunt Cam" married a man 14 years her junior and her niece's second husband was 17 years her junior or if you choose to believe Agnes' assumed birth year of 1906 11 years her junior.  There are no coincidences here.

It is more than common for one generation to follow the example of another.  Sometimes we rely on the older generation to point the way.  Agnes spent a whole lot of time around her Aunt.  I am absolutely sure that none of the similarities are accidental.  She relived what she had witnessed bad endings and all.  I am of the opinion that neither woman should have married.  I think both of them did it for the very same reasons.  It was expected of them.  Both women were the only daughters of their respective parents.  Both women were substantially older than the norm when they married and both women were unable to establish a marriage that lasted their whole life through.  I cannot speak to whether "Aunt Cam" had romantic friendships with any female companions because she was spoken of very little and her life is remarkably free of documentation.  I have found no letters or books to indicate how she felt about anything.  I can tell she had no children and her niece had no children.  This is really odd considering their reasons for marrying...because they were the only girls and they had to.  You would think they might feel compelled to have at least one biological child but no.  In fact the only one of Robert and Hannah Moorehead's children who had biological offspring was John Moorehead.  Of his two girls one survived and never had children of her own.  There are no direct decendants of Robert and Hannah Moorehead.  The line stopped with Agnes.
There are cousins, mostly distant, like myself, but nothing directly.  I think Agnes was imitating her Aunt.  The whole "Do as I do not as I say" thing is ironic when you consider "Aunt Cam's" concern about Agnes being infamous and in the papers.  I wonder if "Aunt Cam" ever considered what people thought of her marrying someone so much younger than herself?  I know Agnes never even discussed the age difference between her and Rober Gist.  It seemed natural to her as she followed "Aunt Cam's" lead..."Do as I do not as I say."  "John, she'll ger her name in the papers!"

Friday, April 20, 2012

Body Language

I've been sitting here at work for the past hour thinking about Agnes and looking at some of my pictures of her.  I don't tend to look at her in terms of body language or at least I didn't until this evening.  Then it ran over me like a Mac truck...look at her body position.

It started with another blog I have and a recent post involving the old television show "Password."  This posting showed a male contestant throwing his arms around Agnes and kissing her cheek.  It  struck me that she looked rather dismayed by his emotional outburst.  At first I chalked it up to the fact she didn't know the young man but as I looked furtively through YouTube postings of this show I noticed something I had not really seen before.  Agnes nearly always pats, touches or gazes directly at her female teammate but not her male teammates.  Hmmm I wondered is this mere coincidence?  Not so much.  Just ask Francine York.

For those who don't remember Francine played Aphrodite on an episode of "Bewitched."  During the shoot Agnes would repeatedly pat Francine on the hand and tell her how beautiful she was.  Then it dawned on me that was the same behavior I was seeing on Password particularly with young blonde women.  Hand patting and  direct eye contact.  All this prompted me to take a look at some of the pictures that I have and I found some really interesting things...really interesting.
Christmas photo number one.  Notice the look on Agnes' face.  Her smile doesn't break the plane of her face, no dimples, called a stage smile.  She is physically up against her mother and her body is angled away from that of her husband.  This is a defensive posture.  Someone who studies body language would tell you that someone adopting this posture is attempting to protect themselves from someone they are frightened of.  She has gone out of the way to not touch him at all by pulling her legs in away from his hand on the floor.  He, on the other hand, is clueless of how she feels.  His body is angled toward her and his smile is genuine.  Note he is still wearing a wedding band on his left had and Agnes stopped wearing hers in the 1930's.
Christmas picture number two. Again Agnes has a stage smile on but she appears to be making eye contact with Jack, however, if you look closely her eyes are actually focused above his right shoulder.  She is looking in his direction but not directly at him.  Her unfocused look is what gives this away.  Her body is angled toward her mother and away from Jack.  Her left bicep is tensed meaning he is touching the package but she's not letting him hold it with her.  Her hips are tensed and angled backwards from him.  She fears this man in a substantial way.  Jack is, yet again, clueless.  His smile is genuine and he's leaning toward her while she is leaning backwards away from him.  He is looking directly at her not even realizing that she isn't making eye contact with him.
Another telling picture.  Agnes is leaning to the left away from Jack as he invades her personal space. Another defensive posture.  She has her shoulders tilted toward the camera away from him.  He is still genuinely unaware that she fears him.  His shoulders are angled towards her.

Two happy people dancing, right?  Not so much.  Notice her body posture.  Her right shoulder is highly tense and pulled backward away from him.  Her head is tilted to the side back and away from him  Her eyes are looking downward and her upper body is pulled backwards away from him.  Her hips are tensed to the right and backwards away from him.  She's only up against him because he has pulled her that way.  Underneath his fingers the velvet of her gown is creased from his grip.  Over all she is extremely tense denoting fear.
Her she is with a young man she doesn't know who has asked her to sign his book.   Compared to her husband she is actually comfortable with the boy.  Her shoulders are angled toward him as are her feet.  She has no fear of this boy.  She appears relaxed.  There is no tenseness in her body at all.
Here with a group of women.  Her entire upper body is angled toward the group.  She appears tired and drawn.  Her smile is a put on but she is comfortable enough to lean in toward them, however, she is going out of her way to not visually touch them.  Notice that all three of the women to her right are literally scrunched into one another but Agnes has angled her pelvis away from them.  She is afraid of how this might look and is not willing to be physically close to them although she isn't frightened of them.

With Orson Welles she is genuinely relaxed.  She is loose and extremely comfortable.  Her whole body is involved in a laugh.  She enjoys his company.  She trusts him.  She is turning her body toward him and is unafraid to touch him.  She is super relaxed around him.
Here is Agnes with Kathy Ellis.  Notice how comfortable she is.  Her smile is genuine and her eye contact with Kathy is intense.  She is not afraid to touch her.  Her whole body is angled toward her and her arm is around Kathy's waist.  Kathy is very important to her and she trusts her implicitly.
Here she is with Robert Gist in 1953.  She isn't afraid of him but she is extremely tense.  Look at her shoulder muscles.  You can see the tenseness of the muscles.  She is angled away from him with her body.  She is uncomfortable as is he.  His body is angled away from her  and he is leaning to his left away from her.  His smile is forced and they are both avoiding contact with one another.
Again with Gist.  He looks dumbfounded and she has tilted herself away from him to the left.  Her hands are acting as a barrier.  His body indicates he is, at this stage, submissive around her.  His shoulders are rounded and he has pulled himself in while she is totally upright.  Her shoulders are square.  She is dominant at this point in their relationship.
On the set of "Tempest."  She is holding the hand of her costar.  She is leaning her whole body toward her.  She is relaxed and is comfortable with her.  There is a sense of attraction on her part and she feels an emotional connection to this woman.  Her hand on top indicates she views herself as dominant and in control but she has gone out of her way to be casual about it. She has moved her body over in her chair to attain this casual grasping of the hand.  Her knees are open indicating she is completely open.
Her two screen kisses.  Notice the placement of her hands on the upper arms of her male costars.  She is restraining them and asserting her control of the situation.  In the upper picture from "Tempest" she has offset her body to the left of her costar but she is more willing to kiss him and has tilted her head upwards.  In the bottom picture her body is tensed away from Joe and she's kissing him but she isn't all that comfortable with it.
Again she is dominant but open in both pictures.  She genuinely likes these two men and is comfortable with both of them.  She goes out of her way to have her hands in a dominant position if she is embracing a man,

With few exceptions.
She trusts Cesar and allows him to envelope her.  She knows him well.  She is comfortable with him.  There is no threat here.
She trusts David Hedison and allows him to put his arm around her shoulder.
She is far more comfortable with women.  But she is dominant.  She is drawing Debbie towards her.
Again dominant.  She is in control of Tanya and is distancing herself from Quint.  Odd, given his view of the role he played in her life but she is far more concerned with Tanya than him.
She always has her back to Quint no matter how hard he tries.
But is nearly always open to women and has been since her youth.

Believe me I could go on forever about this.  It makes you look at each photograph searching for the nuances of body position, eye contact, and level of angst or comfort.  It boils down to this.  For the most part she was uncomfortable with men.  Paul Gregory called her a "meat grinder" and said that Jack Lee never stood a chance with her.  He also said that she was a "tough, tough woman."  I think that Agnes spent her entire life being comfortable, for the most part, with women and chose men who were either abusive as Jack Lee was, a user as Robert Gist was, or gay as Cesar Romero was and as Quint Benedetti were.  She spent her life guarding her private world from the prying eyes of the public but put herself on display at every event she attended, hosted or was involved in.  Beyond the mere appearance of the photo, she was there.  She was veiled but she was there in all her glory for those of us willing to look and those of us willing to see.