Sunday, January 25, 2015

Traumatic Time Line

The Events
 July 30, 1927 Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio, 12:30pm, Trumbull Steel Company, an accident occurs with a crane and Terence Edward McCauley is killed by a blow to the base of his skull. He is 62 years, 2 months and 4 days old. His residence is listed as 305 Buckeye and his informant, his wife, Margaret McCauley is listed as residing at 1136 Walnut in Canton, Ohio.  It is stated on the death certificate that Mr. McCauley had been a resident of Warren, Ohio for 12 years.

November 11, 1927 Rich Hill, Muskingum County, Ohio, 12:00Pm, Hannah Mariah Humphrey Moorehead dies of old age at home.  The informant of her death to the county is listed as John H. Moorehead of St. Louis, Mo.  She is 86 years, 28 days old.

January 7, 1928 Falls Township, Muskingum County, Ohio, 1:30pm, Hugh Forsythe Moorehead dies at home of acute indigestion and congestion of the lungs.   The informant of his death to the county is his son Robert Hugh Moorehead. He is 86 years, 6 months, 17 days old. He is a paternal great uncle to Agnes Moorehead.

1928, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, time and cause unknown, Mary Jane McCauley dies.  She is the eldest sister of Terence McCauley. She is a maternal great aunt to Agnes Moorehead.  Her daughter, Lucy Cole Logan, commits suicide on June 27, 1911 by drinking carbolic acid.

April 29, 1929 Rich Hill, Muskingum County, Ohio, 8:00pm, Robert Henderson Moorehead dies at home from a combination of old age and complications from a thigh fracture.  The informant of his death to the county is listed as Mrs. Harold Bay, Aunt Cam. He is 90 years and six months old.

July 14, 1929 Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, 7:50 am, Miami County Hospital, Margaret Ann Moorehead dies by her own hand after taking bi chloride of mercury.  She is 23 years, 2 months, 21 days old.  The informant to the county of her death is her father John H. Moorehead.

October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday, the Great Depression begins with the crash of the stock market.  Work becomes hard to find on Broadway and Agnes must turn her attention to radio to support herself.

May 22, 1938 Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio, 11:00 am, Kohr Memorial Presbyterian Church, John Henderson Moorehead dies while in his pulpit during the service of a massive heart attack.  He has been treated for high blood pressure since 1936.  His wife Mollie watches him die in front of an entire congregation.  He is 65 years old.

September 26, 1938 New York, New York.  Today Agnes and Jack Lee return from their "Honeymoon." They have been married for 8 years, 3 months, 23 days.

October 20, 1938, Massillon, Stark County, Ohio, 4:50pm, Bridget Caroline Doyle dies of lobar pneumonia.  Margaret Doyle McCauley is her sister. She is the maternal great aunt of Agnes Moorehead.  She is 69 years old. The informant of her death to the county is her daughter Mrs. Harold Hose.

January 27, 1939, New Kensington, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Mary Doyle dies of lobar pneumonia and a fractured hip.  Margaret Doyle McCauley is her sister.  She is the maternal great aunt of Agnes Moorehead. She is 78 years, 6 months, 23 days old. The informant of her death to the county is her daughter Mrs. Mary Mazie Kerr.

March 14, 1939, New Concord, Muskingum County, Ohio, 6:00am, Camilla Urso Moorehead dies of a heart attack at her home.  She has been treated for cardiac arrhythmia since 1936.  She is the sister of John H. Moorehead.  She is the great aunt of Agnes Moorehead.  She is 62 years old. The informant of her death to the county is her niece, Mrs. John Park, who would go on later to sue both Agnes and her mother claiming property left to Agnes by an uncle.

February 28, 1949, San Francisco, California, Mrs. Susan Ping Lee O'Neill dies at St. Luke's Hospital of unknown causes. John (Jack) Griffith Lee is her son.  She is the mother in law of Agnes Moorehead. She is 88 years old.  Her funeral cost $1018.50, a tidy sum for the time, it would cost $9,940.00 measured in today's money.

April 14, 1949, Cambridge, Guernsey County, Ohio, Marcus (Mark) Humphrey Moorehead dies of a massive heart attack. John Henderson Moorehead's brother. He is the paternal great uncle of Agnes Moorehead. He is 78 years, 4 months old.  The informant of his death to the county was Mrs. John Park, his niece.  This is the uncle who gave Agnes the land that Mrs. Park would later attempt to sue over.

June 15, 1949, Los Angeles, California.  Agnes Moorehead officially files separation papers severing ties to Jack Lee.

October 1949, Los Angeles, California.   Agnes plays hostess to the parents of Robert Gist at her home as they visit with their son, Robert Gist.

 What Does Any Of This Mean?
Well, we all deal with certain amounts of trauma over a lifetime.  Sometimes it feels as if we are being sucked down by a whirlpool of events and often we find ourselves weeping, withdrawing or attempting to compensate with our pain via any distraction available.  Consider the pattern of upheaval and compare it to drastic life changes that ensued for Agnes:

August 14, 1926, New York, New York, Agnes auditions for AADA and is ultimately accepted into the class of 1927.  Typically classes begin at AADA begin in September for what amounts to a semester that ends in the middle of December and again in January for a semester that ends in June.  So that means that as Agnes was preparing to go to AADA in 1927 her maternal grandfather dies in an awful industrial accident in Ohio.  He dies on
July 30, 1927. Less than two months later Agnes is in New York beginning her studies at AADA.   Approximate 60 days after the death of her maternal grandfather her beloved maternal grandmother Hannah dies on November 11, 1927.  Agnes has, at that point, approximately one month before the semester ends.  It is unknown whether or not she was able to attend the funeral.  I don't know about you but I was quite young when 3 of my 4 grandparents died and it was very traumatic.  My biggest worry was elementary school and I cried myself to sleep.  I cannot imagine bearing up under the demands of higher education in my chosen profession and attempting to cope with the loss of two beloved family members within two months of one another.

1928 would fare no better for Agnes and family passings.  In 1928, the specific month and day are not documented, Mary Jane McCauley passes away.  She is the sister of Agnes' maternal grandmother and herself the mother of the first documented case of suicide in the family, Agnes' cousin Lucy.  At the beginning of 1928 on January 7th approximately 4 days before the beginning of the spring semester Agnes' uncle Hugh Forsythe Moorehead dies in Ohio less than 60 days after the passing of her grandmother, Hannah.

Moving right along to 1929 we find that on April 29th Agnes' beloved paternal grandfather Robert Moorehead passes away at his home in Ohio.  This happens 30 days after the end of the spring semester for Agnes at AADA.  Then on July 14, 1929 Agnes' only sister Peggy dies after taking bi chloride of mercury in a suicide.

 Agnes was enormously busy with school in her second year at AADA.  In January of 1929 Agnes performed in a production of "Captain Applejack." On February 1, 1929 Agnes performed in a production of "Chinese Love."  On February 15, 1929 Agnes performed in a production of  "Gloria Mundi." On March 1, 1929 Agnes performed in a production of "Mrs. Cheney" which was the sixth production of the AADA season.  On March 18, 1929 Agnes was graduated from AADA. Two deaths, six plays and a graduation occur with in a span of less than 6 months.  In addition, we know that at some point around the time of her sister passing away Agnes agrees to marry Jack Lee once he graduates from AADA in 1930.  Add to this already explosive mixture the demise of Agnes' dreams of working substantially on Broadway.  Theatre has suffered greatly because of the Great Depression.  Suffice it to say that this is a horrendous year.

Once Agnes got in to radio her schedule was so hectic and so demanding.  She routinely did in excess of seven performances daily.  By 1938 she was one of the most prominent female voices on radio.  She was at every theatre performance that mattered and was always in an excellent seat with Jack at her side.  Often it was said nobody had any idea who she managed to be in the same place so that she could be seen every time.  By her own account during her testimony in the hearing for her divorce from Jack Lee had been heavily drinking since 1935.  1938 brought to Agnes the biggest loss of her life.  On May 22, 1938 her beloved father passed away at the age of 65 while in his pulpit preaching at Kohr Presbyterian Church.  It must have been shattering for Agnes.  His death was very sudden, although he had been treated for high blood pressure since 1936.  Within 4 months Agnes and Jack would take the honeymoon that had been "put off" for 8 years.  Less than a month after their return Agnes' maternal great Aunt Bridget Caroline Doyle dies at the age of 69 during a visit with her daughter and sister, Margaret McCauley, in Massillon Ohio.  Agnes threw herself into her work rarely taking any time for herself or Jack other than public appearances and interviews. 

1939 would prove to be no better.  On January 27, 1939 Agnes' maternal great aunt Mary Doyle dies of pneumonia at the age of 78.  A little less than 3 months later Agnes' beloved Aunt Cam dies of a heart attack at the age of 62.  We all know of Aunt Cam because Agnes' regularly talks about her and her quirks in her one woman show.  In less than a year Agnes has lost two of the people she loved most in the world and two maternal great aunts.  Yet by the end of 1939 Agnes would uproot and move to Hollywood to begin her motion picture career under the direction of Orson Welles in "Citizen Kane."

For 10 years from 1939 to 1949 Agnes managed to maintain some stability in her world with the exception of her marriage to Jack Lee.  They separate in 1945 but reconcile and hang on for another 4 years.  February 28,1949 Jack's mother Susan Ping Lee O'Neill passes away.  The tab for her funeral is $1018.50.  In today's money that funeral would cost $9940.00 and Jack was billed for it.  Less than two months later on April 14, 1949 Agnes' paternal great uncle Mark Moorehead dies of a massive heart attack.  He is 78 years old.  By June 15, 1949 Agnes' has put Jack out of the house and filed for a separation.  In October of 1949 Agnes' plays hostess to Robert Gist's parents during their visit to Hollywood.

Every event seems to be at the bottom of or caused by emotional upheaval in Agnes' life.
She handles stress by acting out and making life altering decisions.  It was a pattern that would stay with her all her life.  If she was stressed she would shut down and often just make statements that usually had very little basis in reality.  It is little wonder though because she had so many truly traumatic events in her life.  Starting with the tragic death of her maternal grandfather and ending with her divorces Agnes went through a seriously of complex, painful, stressful events.  It makes you appreciate the level of commitment and skill she maintained in her professional life.  At times when most people would throw up their hands and resign themselves to mourning she continued on with grace.