From 1941, when Citizen Kane was released, until 1966, there were very few years Agnes did not appear in a movie. Some years she was in several.
Citizen Kane - Mercury-RKO. In a cast that included Orson
Welles and Joseph Cotten, Agnes gave a distinguished performance as Welles' mother. Ruth Warrick was his wife. Ray Collins (later Lt. Tragg of Perry Mason fame), Everett Sloane, and Paul Stewart were from the original Mercury Theater group.
The Magnificent Ambersons - Mercury-RKO. Cast included Joseph Cotten, Delores Costello, Tim Holt, Anne Baxter, Ray Collins. As Aunt Fanny Minafer, Agnes won the New York Film Critics' Award and her first Oscar nomination. It was almost as if she was so inspired by Welles and Cotten that she went even beyond her utmost.
Journey into Fear -Mercury-RKO. Cast included Welles, Cotten, Delores DelRio, Ruth Warrick, and Everett Sloane. This time Agnes played the part of a wife. This mystery script was written by Joseph Cotten. (Welles had scripted the Magnificent Ambersons from Booth Tarkington's story.)
The Big Street - RKO Radio. Cast included Henry Fonda, Lucille Ball, Ray Collins, and others in play about a Damon Runyon character. Agnes was a wife again.
The Youngest Profession - MGM. Large cast with guest stars such as Lana Turner, Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Robert Taylor, and William Powell. Agnes was a governess in a light story about teen-ager fan clubs.
Government Girl-RKO Radio. Cast included Olivia deHavilland, Sonny Tufts, and Paul Stewart. Agnes was a society leader in a wartime housing shortage comedy.
Jane Eyre - 20th Century-Fox. Cast included Welles, Joan Fontaine, John Sutton, Henry Daniell, Margaret O'Brien, Peggy Ann Garner, and Elizabeth Taylor. Agnes was a cruel aunt.
Since You Went Away - Selznick-United Artists. Cast included
Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple, Robert Walker, Keenan Wynn, Lionel Barrymore. A society leader part again for Agnes.
Dragon Seed-MGM. Cast included Katherine Hepburn, Walter Huston, Akim Tamiroff, Turhan Bey, Hurd Hatfield, J. Carroll Naish, Henry Travers. Pearl S. Buck's novel in which Agnes portrayed an unforgettable, weak, and nagging Chinese woman.
The Seventh Cross-MGM. Cast included Spencer Tracy, Signe Hasso, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy. Agnes was not on the screen more than five minutes but made the seamstress who helped an escapee realistic and vivid.
Mrs.Parkington - MGM. Cast included Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Edward Arnold, Cecil Kellaway, Gladys Cooper, Tom Drake, Dan Duryea, and a large cast. Agnes played a chic baroness role.
Tomorrow the World-United Artists. Cast included Frederic March, Betty Field, Skip Homeir, John Carroll. Agnes had a spinster sister role in this one.
The only time she was to outperform the record six movies in this one year would be in 1956, when she was to make seven films.
Keep Your Powder Dry-MGM. Cast included Lana Turner, Laraine Day, Susan Peters, June Lockhart, Lee Patrick, Jess Barker. Agnes was a WAC commander.
Our Vines Have Tender Grapes -MGM. Cast included Edward G. Robinson, Margaret O'Brien, James Craig, and others. Agnes was O'Brien's mother in this tender, loving film.
Her Highness and the Bellboy-MGM. Cast included Hedy Lamarr, June Allyson, Robert Walker. She was Lamarr's chaperone in this one.
Dark Passage-Warner Brothers. A Bogart-Bacall vehicle in which Agnes played the estranged girl friend of Bogart.
There was a color passion in this movie. I've often wondered if this could have nurtured her passion for lavender.
The Lost Moment - Universal-International. Cast included Susan Hayward, Robert Cummings, Eduardo Cinnelli. She was Miss Hayward's 105-year-old aunt. The makeup job is reputed to have taken four hours to apply and over one hour to remove. As usual, she gave an extraordinary portrayal.
Summer Holiday - MGM. Cast included Mickey Rooney, Gloria DeHaven, Walter Huston, Frank Morgan, and a large cast. Another spinster role in another aunt part.
The Woman in White-Warner Brothers. Cast included Eleanor Parker, Alexis Smith, Sydney Greenstreet, Gig Young. Another mystery, another wife role. Agnes will be long remembered for a scene with Greenstreet (as his wife) in which her classical profile predominated. It wasn't easy to steal a scene from Greenstreet.
Stations West - RKO Radio. Cast included Dick Powell, Burl Ives. Would you believe she was a gold-mine owner in this one? Johnny BelindaWarner Brothers. Cast included Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford, Stephen McNally, and Jan Sterling. Not only an aunt role again, but the second Oscar nomination.
The Stratton Story - MGM. Cast included James Stewart, June Allyson, Frank Morgan. She was Stewart's mother in this baseball story.
The Great Sinner - MGM. Cast included Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Ethel Barrymore, Frank Morgan, and a large cast. Agnes was a pawnshop owner.
Without Honor - United Artists. Laraine Day, Franchot Tone, Dane Clark, Bruce Bennett. Agnes played the wife of Tone. She so often played spinster aunts and society grande dames that moviegoers forget she played opposite many great male stars.
Caged - Warner Brothers. Cast included Eleanor Parker, Hope Emerson, Jan Sterling, Lee Patrick, Jane Darwell, and a large cast. Agnes played a women's prison warden here. She researched this one at Tehachapi Prison. Agnes loved to surprise co-workers with solid homework for a part.
Fourteen Hours - 20th Century-Fox. Cast included Paul Douglas, Richard Basehart, Barbara Bel Geddes, Grace Kelly, and others. Agnes played a mother role again.
Showboat - MGM. Cast included Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Ava Gardner, Marge Champion, Gower Champion, Joe E. Brown. Agnes played the nagging wife of Captain Andy (played by Brown).
The Blue Veil - RKO Radio. Cast included Jane Wyman, Charles Laughton, Joan Blondell, Richard Carlson, Audrey Totter, Everett Sloane, Natalie Wood. Agnes played a wealthy society woman again. Laughton persuaded her to do Don Juan in Hell after this.
Adventures of Captain Fabian - Republic. Cast included Errol Flynn, Victor Francen, Michelin Presle. Agnes' role was that of a servant companion in this run-of-the-mill flick about New Orleans.
The Blazing Forest - Paramount Pictures. Cast included John Payne, William Demarest, Richard Arlen, Susan Morrow, Lynne Roberts. Agnes played a landowner here.
Captain Black Jack - Classic Pictures. Cast included George Sanders, Patricia Roc, Herbert Marshall. Agnes was a socialite again.
The Story of Three Loves - MGM. Three-part film. The part Agnes played in was called The Jealous Lover, starring James Mason and Moirer Shearer. Agnes was an aunt again. She gave her utmost even to bit parts, and here she exemplified dignity and exuded sympathy to the hilt.
Scandal at Scourie - MGM. Cast included Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Rhys Williams. Agnes' first portrayal of a nun, in charge of orphans. Reunited with Garson and Pidgeon.
Main Street to Broadway - MGM. Very large cast, including Tallulah Bankhead, Shirley Booth, Rex Harrison, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore, Louis Calhern, Helen Hayes. Agnes played an agent in this attempt to film backstage life of the theater. Those Redheads from Seattle -Paramount. Cast included Rhonda Fleming, Gene Barry, Teresa Brewer, Guy Mitchell, Jean Parker, and others. Agnes played the mother of four girls during the gold rush days. Her spitfire performance is a reminder that the Latin derivation of Agnes is agni, which means "fire," She was truly named.
Magnificent Obsession - Universal-International. Cast included Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush, Otto Kreuger. This role earned Agnes her third Oscar nomination. Here she portrayed Wyman's nurse companion. They were really something together, as in Johnny Belinda. Once again, she did her research by observing hospital techniques. It served her and the movie well.
Untamed - 20th Century-Fox. Cast included Tyrone Power, Susan Hayward, Richard Egan, Rita Moreno, Hope Emerson. This was set at the time of the Boer War. She played the governess of Miss Hayward's children.
The Left Hand of God - 20th Century-Fox. Cast included Humphrey Bogart, Gene Tierney, Lee J. Cobb, E. G. Marshall, Benson Fong. Agnes played the wife of a mission doctor.
All that Heaven Allows - Universal- International. Cast included Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Conrad Nagel, Gia Scala. Agnes was reunited with Miss Wyman, and once again played her trusted companion.
Meet Me in Las Vegas - MGM. Cast included Dan Dailey, Cyd Charisse, Paul Henried, Lena Horne, and a host of guest stars. Agnes played Dailey's mother.
The Conqueror - RKO Radio. Cast included John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Pedro Armendariz, Ted DeCorsia, Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Gomez. Would you believe she played the mother of Genghis Khan (played by Wayne)?
The Revoltof Mamie Stover - 20th Century-Fox. Cast included Jane Russell, Richard Egan, Joan Leslie, and others. Agnes turned blond for this one, as the proprietress of a Hawaiian house of ill repute. This had to be her most unlikely part.
The Swan - MGM. Cast included Grace Kelly, Alec Guinness, Louis Jordan, Brian Aherne, Jessie Royce Landis. Agnes played a dowager queen-regal and imperial.
Pardners - Paramount. Cast included Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Lee Van Cleef, and others. Once again she was a blonde, once again a mother, this time of Jerry Lewis.
The Opposite Sex - MGM. Cast included June Allyson, Joan Collins, Ann Miller, Delores Gray, Ann Sheridan, Charlotte Greenwood, Carolyn Jones, Leslie Nielson, Sam Levene. Agnes was the divorcee in this remake of Clare Booth Luce's The Women.
This was Miss Moorehead's most prolific film year, inasmuch as seven were released in this one year. This marked her forty-sixth film.
Raintree County - MGM. Cast included Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Lee Marvin, Rhys Williams, and others. This celebrated novel of a love story included Agnes as Clift's mother.
The True Story of Jesse James - 20th Century-Fox. Cast included Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, Hope Lange, John Carradine, and others. Agnes played a mother again, this time of the bandit.
Jeanne Eagels - Columbia, Cast included Kim Novak, Jeff Chandler, Murray Hamilton, and others. Agnes was the confidante drama coach in this biography of the ill-fated actress. The Story of Mankind - Warner Brothers. A fanciful version of Hendrik Van Loon's book of the same title. A tremendous cast of stars, including Agnes' long-time friend, Cesar Romero. Agnes was Queen Elizabeth I in this opus. The painting of her in costume is now at the farm in Ohio.
Night of the Quarter Moon - MGM. Cast included Julie London, Nat King Cole, Anna Kashfi, Dean Jones. Agnes was a socialite mother again. This time of John Drew Barrymore.
The Tempest - Paramount. Cast included Silvano Mangano, Van Heflin, Viveca Lindfors, Oscar Homolka, Finlay Currie. This was not the Shakespeare vehicle. Agnes played a wife again.
The Bat - Allied Artists. Cast included Vincent Price, John Sutton, and others. Agnes received co-star billing in this one, in which she played a writer leasing an old mansion.
PollIvanna - Buena Vista. Cast included Hayley Mills, Jane Wyman, Richard Egan, Karl Malden, Nancy Olson, Adolphe Menjou, Donald Crisp. Agnes played the town hypochondriac.
Twenty Plus Two - Allied Artists. Cast included Dina Merrill, David Jansen, Jeanne Crain, William Demarest. Agnes was a high society dowager again.
Bachelor in Paradise - MGM. Cast included Bob Hope, Lana Turner, Jim Hutton, Paula Prentiss, John McGiver. Agnes played a judge, with her own inimitable touches.
Jessica - United Artists. Cast included Angie Dickinson, Maurice Chevalier, Sylva Koscina, and many others. Agnes was a grandmother in this one-sort of a modern day Lysistrata.
How the West Was Won - MGM. Cast included Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, Debbie Reynolds, Carroll Baker, James Stewart and a cast of thousands. Agnes played the pioneer wife of Malden and the mother of Debbie and Carroll. One of the few pictures in which she appeared with her neighbor, James Stewart.
Who's Minding the Store? - Paramount. Cast included Jerry Lewis, Jill St. John, John McGiver, Ray Walston. Agnes played Jill's mother and the artistocratic department store owner. Jerry said on an autographed picture to Agnes that "she gave my picture class."
Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte- 20th Century-Fox. Cast included Bette Davis, Olivia deHaviland, Joseph Cotten, Cecil Kellaway, Mary Astor, Bruce Dern, Marianne Stewart. As the slovenly maid, Agnes was nominated again as best supporting actress -her fourth nomination. This time most were sure she'd win, but who could beat the death scene of her main competition (Lila Kedrova in Zorba the Greek).
The Singing Nun - MGM. Cast included Debbie Reynolds, Greer Garson, Ricardo Montalban, Katherine Ross, Tom Drake. Agnes was later to suggest Ricardo Montalban as Don Juan in Don Juan in Hell. He credits her for his part on the tour.
In the hall stairway leading down to the rumpus room of Villa Agnese, there is a poster on the left wall depicting some of the films she made during the twenty-five-year period of 1941 to 1966. It shows only thirty-seven of the more than sixty films - there was not enough room to include every one.
Below is some miscellaneous information I gathered during research concerning some of her motion picture films:
The little-known Chivwit Indian tribe was used for filming of The Conqueror. It was directed by Dick Powell.
After filming Dragon Seed, she took a trip to the Orient. She was later to meet Pearl S. Buck at a supper given for Pearl Buck and Agnes by Mary Roebling.
Although mostly on tour with Don Juan in Hell from 1951 to 1955, she still managed to help turn out five motion pictures, including the role that earned her her third Oscar nomination. Tucked away in one of the numerous books in her private library there was a "call sheet" for Magnificent Obsession.
UNIVERSAL INTERNATIONAL 11th day of shooting
Picture MAGNIFICENT Director: D. Sirk
Shooting call: 9 a.m. Date: Fri. Oct. 2, 1953
Cast: On Set:
Jane Wyman 8:45 a.m.
Rock Hudson 8:45 A.M.
Agnes Moorehead 10:00 A.M.
Richard Cutting 8:45 A.M.
A total of 6 stand-ins plus
48 painters, plumbers, technicians, camera and sound crews, elect., props.
Once, while being interviewed as to why she sometimes played comedy when she was renowned for regal parts or old crone parts, Agnes replied, "That's just it. I never want to be typed." Then she recalled being in Bob Hope's Bachelor in Paradise as the woman judge. "He liked for us to improvise. I recalled seeing a judge use a swivel chair once, so we inserted a swivel chair on the set. As for looking over and under bifocals, I'd seen another judge do that, so we implemented it, too."
There has been mention of how she prepped for certain parts. It wasn't just hospitals and women's prisons that she observed. She used a chemical lab and an electronics lab for her homework when she thought it would be useful to her role.
Her major film participation of necessity ended with signing a contract as Endora in television's Bewitched. This is understandable. She would occasionally make a film for television thereafter.
I have cited some names in the review of her movie career out of nostalgiaRay Collins (buried next to Stan Laurel in one of the Forest Lawn cemeteries), Lionel Barrymore, Robert Taylor, Robert Walker, Finlay Currie, Walter Huston, Turhan Bey, Cecil Kellaway, Rhys Williams, Louis Calhern, Jeff Chandler, Nat King Cole, Adolphe Menjou.
Agnes appeared with every major film studio. She gave supporting role status to every top actress and actor of the time. Disappointed at her never winning an Oscar in the nominee races, her friend, Paul Gregory, once said: "You are the trunk of the tree, Agnes. Like every great supporting actor or actress, the stars are the branches. They depend on you for support, nurture, and strength. Without you and your like, they are nothing. Just notice how ludicrous big name stars look either on stage or in films if they aren't given good supporting actors and actresses."