Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I LOVE THE ILLUSION: The Life and Career of AGNES MOOREHEAD. Charles Tranberg. BearManor Media; 2007.

In this excellent biography by the author of Fred MacMurray: A Biography, the life and career of talented actress Agnes Moorehead is thoroughly examined and scrupulously researched. Moorehead had a successful radio career -- "Sorry, Wrong Number" on Suspense was one of her career highlights -- and also benefited [and vice versa] from her association with Orson Welles, with such films as Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons. Moorehead toured with Shaw's "Don Juan in Hell," appeared in many movies [including Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte] and eventually landed a gig as Endora on Bewitched that made her a household name for the boob tube generation. Tranberg looks at Moorehead's marriages, her conservative politics and religious attitudes, and her relationships with her famous co-players.

Tranberg is to be congratulated for handling a sensitive area with class.Some biographers, when faced with rumors that their subject might be gay, react in a homophobic fashion, denying with outrage as if being gay were in a class with being a terrorist or child molester. Tranberg investigated the rumors, doesn't seem to give a damn if Moorehead were a lesbian or not, but simply could not come up with enough solid evidence to definitely say she was gay or bisexual. Apparently the rumors only got started because of a silly remark made by comedian Paul Lynde. Sure, Moorehead could have been a repressed lesbian restricted by her religious and conservative attitudes, but without solid proof one can't say so and no one will  ever know for sure [about Moorehead and many others]. Besides, her sexuality isn't the question or the point, but rather her talent, which Tranberg illustrates adeptly on virtually every page. The book also includes a list of especially memorable Bewitched episodes and is generously illustrated as well.

Verdict: Outstanding biography of a noteworthy figure. ****.

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