Monday, November 24, 2014

Out Of A Blue Sky Brooklyn Daily Eagle Sunday, October 20, 1935

Radiography of Agnes Moorehead, Chameleon of Ether Waves----a Quick Change Artist, She Has Made a Name for Herself in Studios

Boy Jo Ranson

Good morning, lades and gentlemen and all you kiddies tuning in to the itty-bitty hour.
We turn the wheel of fortune and away it goes....when it lands, nobody knows...not even Major Bows...who's this coming up to the nice, new and shining microphone, or u, that is the type-writer...why ladies and gentlemen, it's none other than radio's counterpart of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde...we mean Agnes Moorehead, the chameleon of the ether waves...this talented you lady has drawn the toughest dramatic acting assignment on Radio Row this about your quick change artists...the latter half of each week she spends thinking herself into a nice, pleasant frame of mind so that on Sunday nights she can make herself a lovable clown on Phil Baker's laugh cast, that's a new word sir for a comedy program...she takes the part of Mrs. Sarah Heartburn, the kindly well=meaning but mentally short-circuited lady stooge...the moment the moment the show (beg your pardon---laugh cast) is over she dashes home, takes her Mr. Hyde suit out of the close, and starts studying her script for the Helen Hayes program on Tuesdays...after four days of making herself likable, her job is to transform herself over night in to an equally well-hated personality so that she can portray Mrs. Van Alastair Crowder opposite La Hayes portrayal of Penelope Edwards.  This paradoxical position is no novelty to Agnes (pardon the familiarity) ...things are always happening to her contrary to the expected pattern.

The lady we're discussing, Agnes Moorehead, at heart is a sophisticate....she goes in for modern painting, rides horseback regularly, sees all the "right plays and all that sort of thing...yet on the air she manages to draw exclusively home spun parts...her trim figure, dark hair and olive complexion would type her as an Oriental glamour girl if she were working for Hollywood magnates, but aerial casting directors believe that middle aged and elderly women are her forte...she is, among other things, a holder of a master's degree in English from the University of Wisconsin, but despite her devotion to the correct use of words, she is frequently called upon to butcher fine language by playing roles calling for  back country dialects...certainly she takes herself a trifle seriously...but what thespian does not?...she wants to do some of the traditionally great feminine roles...yet she has reached her greatest fame on the air as the best impersonator of Zazu Pitts...Agnes Moorehead can take Jack Benny's gag-line, "Everything happens to me, " and apply it the daughter of a minister she was scheduled to become a school teacher...instead her first job as an entertainer was as a dancer....her first public performance constituted in singing hymns, at the age of three, at a social conducted by her father's church...what do you suppose the elders said when years later they saw her name in casts of Broadway shows with racy titles such as "Scarlett Pages" and "Soldiers and Women?'

The strangest paradox of all is that Agnes Moorehead thought she was going to crash New York's radio portals as a songstress...she had been vocalizing on St. Louis stations for three seasons when she came to Manhattan in 1929...the audition system being what it is they heard her...the next day she got a call to play a bit in a mystery thriller and she has been emoting ever since...the she decided to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to become a polished actress....thing to become a Lawrence, a Bankhead or a Fontanne she turned up by way of mild contrast as a member of the Seth Parker company (oh my gosh) and went on a nationwide tour...Aggie- if you dare to call her that to her face you are risking feeling the results of her temper-is getting a little fed up with this business of portraying what she isn't...she says shed' like to be an honest woman on the air lanes-intellectually honest, if there is such a thing any more-just once...what she she going to do about it?...nothing probably she gates paid nicely the way things are going now doesn't she? All right then!