Agnes Moorehead (December 6, 1900 – April 30, 1974) – Mercury Player
I have no idea if Agnes Moorehead dreaded “Bewitched” being the first credit in her obituary to the same degree that Alec Guinness dreaded “Star Wars,” but I certainly wouldn’t blame her. Although it was sort of hip that Endora – Moorehead’s TV character on “Bewitched” – smoked a lot and did as she pleased, the show was junk and miles below her talent.
What I remember first about Agnes Moorehead is that – off and on from 1937 to 1946 – she was an important part of Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre and was the female lead or a major supporting player in nearly all its stage, radio, and film productions. Welles was in awe of the depth and range of Moorehead’s talent and never typecast her – he left that to Hollywood, for later – entrusting her with every possible kind of role.
What I remember most about Agnes Moorehead is her work as the lonely, neurotic Fanny in Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). She blew right past the artificiality and shallowness of so much film acting of the time to deliver a deep and profoundly moving performance. It is the equivalent of the great performances of the later “Method generation” of movie actors. And Agnes Moorehead got there first.