Monday, December 06, 2010

Remembering... Agnes Moorehead

Having been a sensation in such acclaimed black & white films as The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Dark Passage (1947), and Johnny Belinda (1948), not even Agnes Moorehead herself (born on this day in 1900) could have predicted what impact colour would bring to her career... Anyone who doubts it should watch and compare the first season of Bewitched to the second.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBeing a serious actress, Moorehead disdained the 'hack' scripts of situation comedy, refusing to see Bewitched for the trenchant social commentary it was. She had a clause in her contract that she would only appear in eight of every twelve episodes filmed long after it was obvious that she was the fan favourite.

In the time-honoured sitcom tradition, though, it was second-fiddle Endora who made that show as great as it was; without her the show would have had no tension - no 'situations' and therefore no comedy - no raison d'etre. Still, comedy is used to getting the short shrift; as important as making people laugh is, too many still consider the considerably easier task of making people cry to be the more important one.

Moorehead's devout Christianity also gave the show a touch of verisimilitude; in any of the scenes she has with Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) replace the word 'witch' in her dialogue with 'Christian' or 'Presbyterian' and you'll see what I mean. Endora is the most evangelical of witches, and therefore the most complex character on the show, heart and soul.

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lcdseattle said...

I sooooo loved Endora and she did certainly make the show.

michael sean morris said...

There you have it folks... Totally unsolicited testimonial!

(Gee, I like being right.)