Constance Moore Profile

Constance Moore
Constance Moore
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18 January 21 is born in the Sioux City, Iowa, home of her father, Francis Richard “Dick” Moore. Her mother, Constance Houghton of Dallas, Texas, met him during a visit to her uncle Jerry. Moore’s family owns a candy factory, a grocery chain, and the Crystal Ice Company, among other enterprises. It was love at first sight; they eloped and married. The union produces two children, Connie and her brother Oliver Joseph “O.J.,” after which comes a divorce and a return to Dallas.
25 moves to Dallas with her mother and brother, where her mother marries J.G. Smith, an insurance broker, who will raise but not adopt the children. She and her brother will have two half-sisters, Shirley and Betty. She will not maintain a relationship with her birth father but makes sure he has a proper burial years later.
? attends Miss Gray’s day school in Dallas. She never thinks about going into show business, all she knows is that she wants to sing.
36 begins singing on a radio show on the local CBS station, KRLD, sponsored by her uncle and godfather, “Uncle Jack” Marvin, who owns a drugstore chain all over town, Marvin Drugstores. Both KRLD and the local NBC station, WFAA, had badgered him to advertise with them. He mentioned this over dinner one night and she asked, “So Uncle Jack, then you must know the people a KRLD. Could you introduce me?” The station is very impressed with her and decides to keep her on.
takes the streetcar to sing on the radio at 7am before attending high school in Highland Park and at the end of the school day rushes back for the 5pm show, which lasts an hour. The following year, the station hires her to sing with its house band, and she also takes her first nightclub engagement, singing with Ken Meyer's orchestra.
during the celebrations for Texas's centennial of its independence from Mexico, a talent scout for Universal Pictures, Rufus LeMaire, hears Moore on the local radio station and offers her a contract. Her mother at first refuses, saying that her daughter is making a good living in Dallas, but after Le Maire raises the offer to $125 a week, her mother accepts and allows her daughter to move to Beverly Hills, where she will live with an aunt, Jean Halliburton.
July 37 within days of her arrival in Hollywood, she is thrust into the first of a series of low-budget films
is signed to a long-term contract by Universal. The studio has her bleach her brunette hair blonde, but later allows her to revert to her natural shade.
walks into Dan Kelly's office at Universal and says, "Everybody asks me who my agent is. Do I need an agent?" He recommends Johnny Maschio, one of the best, if not the best, agent in Hollywood at the time. Within a couple of days she meets Johnny in the studio commissary and will later say, "...he was Italian and so gorgeous--I was so attracted to him!" The feeling is mutual, but he considers her much too young for him. He never becomes her agent, but his list of clients include Raymond Massey, Jimmy Stewart, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Orson Welles, Van Johnson, Gene Tierney, and Gregory Peck. In fact he was responsible for bringing Peck to Hollywood. "Greg was engaged at the time, but didn't have enough money to buy a ring, so Johnny gave him the money."
37/38 does two westerns with Bob Baker at the same time--and sometimes gets the roles confused. “We’d play a scene for one of the pictures, go behind a rock to change costumes and horses, then come back out and play a scene for the other! …The studio paid for one location trip to Sonora, California, and just so it wouldn’t be a total loss, they filmed the two together. Bob Baker must’ve thought I was something that came out from under the rock! I was all of 16--feisty and flirty! I just had a ball!”
sings with a Los Angeles swing band
November 38 makes a personal appearance at the Monrovia, California, high school auditorium at a benefit designed to aid underprivileged children
39 films the Buck Rogers serial with Buster Crabbe. Of Crabbe, she will later recall: “He was beautiful in every possible way. As for his acting ability, who was I to judge? He certainly looked and played the part very well. But, you have to remember, I was in the throws of my romance with Johnny at the time. Buster was never as beautiful as my Johnny. So, I really didn’t have eyes or ears or notions about anybody else.”
regarding the serial's enduring popularity and on watching her own films: “At that time, I wasn’t interested in studio politics…It was just another script that Universal gave to me. I simply looked at it as another movie. A fan of mine sent me an episode some time ago. But anytime I sit down to watch one of my own movies, I almost always get furious with myself and say, ‘Why did I do this or that?’ or ‘Stand up straight.’ Then by the end of it, I’m usually so completely exhausted that I often put off watching another one for months at a time.”
29 April 39 the press tells that she and John Maschio are eloping by airplane to Yuma, Arizona. He’s 36; she’s 19. They are accompanied by her mother in the private plane piloted by Max Constant, film stuntman. She is expected to report at Universal Studio for In Old California on May 1.
1 May 39 tells the press they married in a small Nevada town but declines to name the town
after marriage, Maschio guides her career. “Whether I had one person or another as my actual agent, it was always ‘Big Daddy‘ who guided my career. The way he explained it, he couldn’t very well go to someone as my agent and say, ‘Here is Constance Moore--the most beautiful, talented, wonderful actress in the whole world…’ when, in all actuality, he was talking about his own wife.”
she and Maschio settle in Beverly Hills with a lemon tree in their yard and a pet dachshund named Wolf. Maschio will work in public relations and later become a successful real estate broker. The couple is devoted to one another. Her half-sister Shirley Rastatter will later say their relationship was “like Ronnie and Nancy Reagan.”
Early May 39 reveals to the press that they will honeymoon in New York
40s along with their friend actor George Murphy and his wife Julie, she and her husband are members of the Bel Aire Country Club and the Bel Aire Beach Club. She later supports Murphy in his campaigns for the U.S. Senate.
the studio uses her voice to dub other actresses' singing. In 2000 she will say: "You know, I only heard about this a couple of years ago. A fan of mine said, 'I was so horrified to hear your voice come out of this other actress!' I actually had no idea the studio was doing this. But, evidently, this was a clause hidden away in the stock contract that allowed them to do it. Apparently they used songs I'd already recorded. Of course, it's a little late to do anything about it now."
does a radio show with friend Dennis O'Keefe. The show airs on Sunday nights, preceded by Walter Winchell and followed by Louella Parsons.
May 40 columnist Jimmy Fidler tells: “The Connie Moore-John Maschio stork story was a false alarm...”
40 is tagged "The Typical American Girl." Joan Bennett was also in the contest.
visits the White House along with other Hollywood stars, including Louis Armstrong, Noah Beery, Lana Turner, George Raft, among others. They are received by Eleanor Roosevelt in the Blue Room. President Franklin Roosevelt knows them all by name and speaks to them as if speaking to old friends. A group photo is taken in the Blue Room; she later regrets not having everyone sign it.
41 films the World War II drama I Wanted Wings on location in San Antonio. Her mother comes down to visit her a couple of times.
The film will be one of her particular favorites and is the studio’s biggest money maker of the year. "It was an important film for me because not only was I the top-billed female lead in a cast including Ray Milland and William Holden, but I was playing a young woman who was patterned after an idol of mine, the great wartime photo journalist Margaret Bourke-White." But the film is stolen by newcomer Veronica Lake with her "peek-a-boo" hairdo. Thirty years later Lake will write vindictively of Moore, claiming that the actress turned the director Mitchell Leisen against her, gave all-night parties which kept her awake, and supported a grasping and vulgar mother. Leisen called the book “the most vicious thing I've seen . . . every word of it is untrue. Connie was pregnant, and the heat at the San Antonio location was really getting to her and we were afraid she would lose the child, which ultimately happened. So you can be sure that, under those circumstances, Connie wasn't fooling around while we were on location.” Moore commented, “Veronica Lake was her own worst enemy . . . Despite all this, I Wanted Wings remains one of my favourite pictures.”
27 September 41 her daughter, Mary Constance, “Gina,” is born in Los Angeles. Good friend Louella Parsons throws a christening party. Jack Kirkland is godfather; Barbara Hutton is godmother.
41/42 while convalescing after the birth of her daughter, she is offered a leading role on Broadway in the Rodgers and Hart musical By Jupiter (the last complete show that the song-writing team wrote together). Ray Bolger stars as the effeminate husband of an Amazon chieftain, and, though Bolger dominates the show with his comic flair and dancing, Moore introduces the plaintive standard "Nobody's Heart".
while still under contract to Universal, she goes on a USO tour, playing camps around the country. She takes the northern route, and Judy Garland takes the southern route, and both end up in New York, where Johnny meets her. She and her husband visit Jack Kirkland, the man who wrote Tobacco Road, among others, and her husband’s closest friend. Jack wants her to go on stage and has already arranged an audition for her with Rodgers and Hart. She is happy to be on Broadway and furious with Universal for putting her in a string of B pictures.
Katharine Hepburn had become a star playing the role in the play 10 years earlier, and Burns Mantle, critic of the Daily News, wrote: "Unless signs fail, this musicalised version will do something of a like service for a pretty little blonde lady named Constance Moore." Moore, describing the show as "the best thing that ever happened to me", said that being on stage in a big production gave her extra confidence: “I even had the nerve to learn to dance in the first film I did afterwards, Show Business, and I never tried that on the screen before. I would have been afraid to.”
the play runs a year and a half, but she leaves for Hollywood before it closes, replaced by Nanette Fabray
42 is cast with fellow Sioux Citian MacDonald Carey in Take a Letter, Darling. Carey will later tell author David Chierichetti in a book about director Mitchell Leisen: “I had always had a connection to Connie Moore; as a teenager I acted with her cousins in Gilbert and Sullivan, and I’m sure I met her at least once in my hometown.”
43/44 gives a baby shower for her friend actress Nan Grey
43 does the radio show Ceiling Unlimited with Joseph Cotton. It airs at noon on Sundays. Orson Welles originally stared in and wrote for the show after returning from Latin America in 1942. It is a patriotic drama series and recounts the heroic efforts of the Allied service men of World War II.
45 plays a stripper in Delightfully Dangerous. She and her husband hit Main Street, where there are plenty of stip joints, so that she can observe and learn "the walk" and "the beat."
Earl Carroll Vanities is nominated for Oscars for Best Music and Best Song, her "Endlessly"
15 February 46 she and her husband are among the movieland passengers of a TWA Lockheed Constellation taking off from the Burbank airport to set a new transcontinental non-stop commercial speed record. The flight inaugurates TWA’s new non-stop flight scheduled between Los Angeles and New York. Howard Hughes is at the controls.
20 May 47 her son, Michael John, is born in Los Angeles; he will become a film producer
December 47 columnist Louella Parsons spots her and Maschio among the guests of a party thrown by Greer Garson
47 largely retires from films. She will turn up sporadically on the big screen on television in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Director Mitchell Leisen will later say: “Connie’s a very talented girl, and she should have been a much bigger star, but she was more interested in her husband and their kids.”
50s does summer stock in Bells Are Ringing and Annie Get Your Gun, among others. Also keeps busy with TV guest spots.
tours the country with a nightclub act in which she sings. The El Morocco, the Maisonette, and the Stork Club are her favorites. She opens the season at the Maisonette year after year. She also plays the Coconut Grove, Chicago's Camelia House and Drake Hotel, the London and Rio Copacabana Clubs, Houston's Shamrock, and Dallas' Adolphus. Nightclub and theater work remain her favorite venues because of "the incredible interaction it allows with the audience."
July 52 Louella Parsons returns to her: “One of life’s most embarrassing moments happened at the Connie Moore-Johnny Maschio party. Gary Cooper came in with Dusty Miller. Shortly after Pat Neal walked in but she carried the situation off with dignity...”
65 replaces Irene Hervey on “The Young Marrieds.” Future TCM host Robert Osborne signs for a couple of the episodes; he is absolutely determined to be an actor. However, acting is not his calling. He often flubs his lines, and she helps him recover. Decades later her husband Johnny writes Osborne at TCM about the film Laura, and Osborne replies: “You can have your Gene Tierney. As for me, I’ll never forget Constance for helping me out on ‘The Young Marrieds.’”
August 65 Louella Parsons reports: “John Maschio, of the Al Herd real estate firm, who made the eventual sale to wealthy developer John Morehart, tells me he is also the agent on the sale of (Huntington) Hartford’s Paradise Island ‘if’ they’re able to swing a gambling permit...”
67 makes her last appearance in a movie, an odd documentary called Spree, a.k.a. Las Vegas by Night, with Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay. The film is produced by her husband.
November 74 will be event chairman at the annual Expectations Christmas Luncheon of the Braille Institute Auxiliary held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on December 4
June 77 columnist Earl Wilson tells: “Actress Constance Moore (Mrs. John Maschio) phoned Earl Blackwell that she was stopping at the New York Athletic Club. ‘But that’s a men’s club,’ he told her. ‘I’m rooming,’ she said, ‘with my husband.’”
17 September 98 becomes the widow of Maschio, who dies at age 95 in Los Angeles
00 thinks the films of today "stink." "I find myself watching classic film channels just to get away from them."
receives an invite to a birthday party for TCM host Robert Osborne and attends with her sister Shirley. At the gathering, Osborne proceeds to tell the story about her helping him on "The Young Marrieds" set.
16 September 05 as Constance M. Maschio, she dies at age 84 of heart failure at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, after a long illness. In addition to her children, she is survived by two half-sisters, Shirley Rastatter and Betty Kelly, two grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.
20 September 05 a memorial service is held in Los Angeles. Her ashes are interred next to her husband’s at Westwood Mortuary in Los Angeles.
"Famous Iowans: Constance Moore" by Tom Longden at, Filmfax, The Modesto Bee, The Independent, Middlesboro Daily News, The Lowell Sun, Syracuse Herald-Journal, The Fresno Bee, Albuquerque Journal, The Hammond Times, The Capital Times, Record-Eagle, The Charleston Gazette, Anderson Daily Bulletin, Van Nuys News,
Recommended Books:
Famous Iowans: Constance Moore