~~~Hollywood, where an intrigue and a victim are born every time two people meet.~~~
If you ask people about Terry Moore you will get a variety of answers. Mostly it will depend upon the person's age and gender. The ladies may say, "wasn't she the beautiful young actress involved with Howard Hughes" or "was she the lovely girl in that gorilla film, Mighty Joe Young" or "Oh, I remember all those live TV shows she did back in the 50s." While many men will remember things slightly differently, "Mmmm, I still have that Playboy here somewhere," or "I remember seeing her in Come Back, Little Sheba." And as one of those happy males, I remember Terry mostly for several signed photos I have from films like Platinum High School and Gambling House. Unfortunately, I don't have that spectacular issue of Playboy, however I do remember the contents rather well.
However, there is so much more to Terry Moore that most people may not know even taking into account the fact that Terry has made some 64 film and hundreds of TV appearances, and is still making movies today after 63 years in the business. Terry once told reporter, Robert R Rees, how legendary Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons once called her an "overnight sensation" some seven years into Terry's career. Two years later, Terry received an Oscar nomination at age 20 for her role in Mighty Joe Young. Few people would also realise that Terry tallied up more hours on film than nearly any two other actresses put together. During the 1950-60s Terry was chalking up long hours on Live TV in the USA. However, as very little of this type of film has survived to make the eternal rounds of repeats like other many TV Series of the period, her star has not been polished as often as those contemporaries like Tina Louise, Shirley Jones or Suzanne Pleshette who TV series are regularly run on cable or are being reissued on DVD. Fame remains as fickle as any cliché...
Yet, Terry Moore has had a dozen careers and has always been active both on and off the screen. Other work includes modelling, billboards, radio plays and advertising, calendars, magazine covers, writing books, numerous plays; writing books including How Do You Stay So Young & The Beauty and the Billionaire; performing in nightclubs; movie and TV producer, celebrity interviewer; and dancer. Terry loved working with Fred Astaire on Daddy Long Legs. Not to mention being a fully qualified jet pilot. Making her one of the fastest blondes on earth.
To achieve these many things over a career says much of Terry’s talent, strength of character and work ethic. At 76, a very svelte Terry still works harder than many people half her age. Throughout her career, Terry has always been public property, sometimes due to her friendships and lovers, but often because she has not been scared to follow her instincts. To do a Playboy spread in 1984 at age 55 took courage although it doesn’t hurt when one still has the curves to make the men smile and the women scowl. It’s nice to see society reminded that human sexuality doesn’t end with male or female menopause. Nobody stormed out when Diane Keaton was getting it on with Jack Nicholson (though I must say that Jack does look better thru sunglasses these days.)
One of the refreshing things (even speaking in hindsight) about Terry Moore is that she has always possessed a rather more Continental outlook on life compared to the mores of 50-60s American life with its festering taboos and amazing inconsistencies and double standards. Having intimate friends like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, or enjoying lovers like James Dean and Howard Hughes may give the average Joe pause for thought, but what could be more natural to a young female star living the life. And while these relationships may sell forests worth of papers and magazines, it does seem that Terry has always looked past the media hype and cherished these relationships, simply for what they were; friendships. I wonder if anyone stops and thinks that when people like Dean dated this or that woman, he did so because he thought that particular girl was hot, or fun, or damned hot fun. As Terry Moore herself pointed out, James Dean one true love was Pier Angeli and yet that relationship was doomed never to find solid ground. Perspective is never a friend to the scandal sheets and magazines. However, the same magazines never stopped Terry from building a life, a family or enjoying the fruits of her hard work like they did so many other “stars.”
I recently wrote to Miss Moore and was thrilled to hear back from her shortly afterwards. Straight away, I detected a woman of humour and vitality. I would like to have asked many questions, but one should never overstay one’s welcome. And looking at the many projects Terry is now working on, you get the feeling that another chapter is about to be writ large in the Moore Chronicles…so no doubt I will be writing Miss Moore again…soon…
David: How did your first film role come about?
Terry: A neighbour sent my photo to a casting magazine.
David: Which of your films remains your favourite and which film do you believe represents your best work?
Terry: My favourite is "Return of October" and I believe my best work was "Why Must I Die."
David: Did you sign your first autograph as a model or as an actress and how did you feel when you were asked?
Terry: I was thrilled to pieces...
David: What’s the funniest or strangest thing that has happened to you working on a film and how did you react to the situation?
Terry: My eyes started twitching just before my first scene with Tyrone Power.
David: Do you collect movie memorabilia or autographs, and if so, what are some of your favourites?
Terry: Yes, I collect Presidents of the USA and Five Star Generals and Admirals.
David: If any person in history could sign their photo for you, who would you ask and what would you have them say in their dedication?
Terry: I would ask Abraham Lincoln and signed simply "your friend."
David: You have always been wonderful signing for fans, but I wondered if you have ever seen forged signatures on your photos?
Terry: Oh, many times over the years.
David: Could you tell us a few of your favourite films, please?
Terry: My all time favourites include The Bridge on the River Kwai, Gone with the Wind, Being There and Harold & Maude.
David: What things in life have brought you the most joy?
Terry: Oh, that is easy, my children and my dogs.
David: What question are you still waiting for someone to ask you?
Terry: "Will you marry me?"
David: What story, from your life, do you best think sums up Judy Ford the person?
Terry: "She's the kindest person I know!!!"
David: Do you have any thoughts which you would like to share with your many fans across the globe?
Terry: Yes, I love your country, Australia
... and be prepared to give your life to maintain the peace...
Article Copyright David Priol 2006
Photos copyrighted to their various owners.