Friday, April 16, 2010

Miss Colleen Moore

Colleen Moore was actually one of the first silent film stars that I read about. I used to subscribe to the American Girl magazine when I was younger, and I remember they did a story about Colleen and her famous doll house. I think there may have even been a little story attached to it. Anyway, I loved looking at the doll house and all the beauty that it held, and I also loved seeing the picture of Colleen. She looked so cute with her little black bob! It wasn't until many years later that I saw her films and really began to like her for her acting talents.

Colleen Moore was born Kathleen Morrison on August 19, 1899 in Port Huron, Michigan (a fellow Michigander!). She was the oldest child of Charles and Agnes Morrison.

In 1908 the family left Michigan and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. They then moved to Pennsylvania and then to Tampa, Florida (I used to live there, we are kindred spirits!)

Colleen's two favorite things as a child (and eventually as an adult) were acting and dolls. She would appear on stage with her brothers and came to the conclusion that she would be a movie star.

Her family would take summer vacations to Chicago, and that is where she came across the Essanay Studios. She later claimed that she was a background extra in a lot of early Essanay shorts, but I am not sure if anyone has ever spotted her in these. She left for Hollywood in 1917, making her film debut the same year

She appeared in a number of films and was named a WAMPAS Baby Star in 1922. In 1923, she appeared in one of her biggest hits, Flaming Youth. She was one of the first actresses to portray the flapper image onscreen (I am not saying she was the first, I am just saying she was one of them. People get very touchy when it comes to claims like that). She, like Louise Brooks, and their bobbed hair were copied by fans all over.

When the talkies came rolling in, Colleen decided to take a break from film. She came back in 1933 and made three films. None of the films were successful, so she retired from acting. Colleen did what a few of her movie pals did and invested in real estate ventures. It helped to keep her wealthy. She also appeared at festivals and for documentaries discussing her film career. She published two books, one about how women can make money in the stock market, and the other was an autobiography.

Colleen Moore passed away on January 25, 1988 of cancer in Paso Robles, California. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered.

She married four times. She first married publicity man John McCormick in 1923 and they divorced in 1930. Next was stockbroker Albert B. Scott in 1932 and a divorce followed two years later. Third was Homer Hargrave in 1937. They stayed married until his death in 1964. And finally was Paul Magenot in 1983 and they remained married until Colleen's death.

As I stated above, Colleen loved to furnish dollhouses. Her most famous is the "Enchanted Castle." It contains tiny books with autographs, working water, detailed art, bear skin rug, etc. It is now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois. She continued to work on it until her death.

She had one blue eye and one brown eye.

Colleen donated her copy of her film Flaming Youth to a museum in the 1960s. But they forgot about it and the film eventually deteriorated. So, now there is only reel of the film available.

She discovered Loretta Young. Colleen's first husband, John McCormick, signed a young lady named Gretchen Young to a film contract and Colleen thought she was just adorable. She suggested that Gretchen change her first name to "Loretta" because it was the name of her favorite doll.

"I was the spark that lit up Flaming Youth , Colleen Moore was the torch. What little things we are to to have caused all that trouble." ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

** 10/23/10 ** In 1920, Colleen it seems also had a fellow actress as a neighbor...Miss Margaret Livingston.