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Viola Moore

Viola Moore

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Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Lively, full-figured lead of the post-WWII era, never a top star but one whose career, in retrospect, sums up much of 1950s attitudes about women, sexuality, and permissiveness. A photographer's child model, Moore entered films in 1940 in "Maryland" and played small parts in a variety of films under first her real name, and then as Judy Ford and Jan Ford. At 19 she played a girl convinced that her horse was the reincarnation of a dead uncle in the odd comedy "The Return of October" (1948). She attracted more attention the following year, however, in another strange, but decidedly better, film about a woman and her pet, "Mighty Joe Young" (1949). For many buffs, the most indelible image of Moore's career was of her born aloft by her bush-league King Kong, playing "Beautiful Dreamer" on a piano. Although Moore began playing innocents, during her peak she often played boldly flirtatious ingenues, sometimes from the wrong side of the tracks, sometimes from "old money," whose burgeoning sexuality often leads her into fast cars with reckless Romeos who had been drinking too much at the prom. Sometimes her gallery of teases and tramps was to the betterment of the picture: well-cast, she copped an Oscar...

Lively, full-figured lead of the post-WWII era, never a top star but one whose career, in retrospect, sums up much of 1950s attitudes about women, sexuality, and permissiveness. A photographer's child model, Moore entered films in 1940 in "Maryland" and played small parts in a variety of films under first her real name, and then as Judy Ford and Jan Ford. At 19 she played a girl convinced that her horse was the reincarnation of a dead uncle in the odd comedy "The Return of October" (1948). She attracted more attention the following year, however, in another strange, but decidedly better, film about a woman and her pet, "Mighty Joe Young" (1949). For many buffs, the most indelible image of Moore's career was of her born aloft by her bush-league King Kong, playing "Beautiful Dreamer" on a piano.

Although Moore began playing innocents, during her peak she often played boldly flirtatious ingenues, sometimes from the wrong side of the tracks, sometimes from "old money," whose burgeoning sexuality often leads her into fast cars with reckless Romeos who had been drinking too much at the prom. Sometimes her gallery of teases and tramps was to the betterment of the picture: well-cast, she copped an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress as the downstairs neighbor in "Come Back, Little Sheba" (1952). Moore also did well in a typical role in the surprisingly good small-town expose, "Peyton Place" (1957) and in very restrained and appealing supporting work in "Daddy Long Legs" (1955). But too often Moore was exploited for her vivacity and figure; as she approached 30 the cheerleader roles didn't suit her and, by the time of "Why Must I Die?" (1960), a revamp of the Susan Hayward hit "I Want to Live" (1958), she hadn't been groomed to move into tough melodrama territory.

Moore did the next best thing, TV, starring in the well-done proto-"Dallas" Western soaper, "Empire" (1962-64) and later bringing a professional seasoning to occasional leads and supporting roles in minor features ranging from "Town Tamer" (1965) to "Hellhole" (1984). Part of the sensationalistic aspect of Moore's persona had always been her private life: her three marriages and many beaus (including Henry Kissinger) had always been good tabloid material, and Moore again garnered attention when she wrote of her secret marriage to reclusive, eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. A woman of considerable drive, Moore ventured into cosmetics with a company called "Moore's More," appeared on the cover of a 1984 issue of Playboy and even formed a production company with partner Jerry Rivers, co-producing, acting in and co-writing the original story for the minor satire, "Beverly Hills Brats" (1989).

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Kitty (1946) Guest/Newspaper woman
2.
 The Canterville Ghost (1944) Girl
3.
 The Hour Before the Dawn (1944) Maid
4.
 Thumbs Up (1943) Party and aircraft girl
5.
 I Married a Witch (1942) Martha
6.
 Eagle Squadron (1942) W.A.A.F.
7.
 Thunder Birds (1942) Nurse
8.
 Confirm or Deny (1941) Telephone operator
9.
 We Are Not Alone (1939) Chorus girl
10.
 Love on the Run (1936) English department store girl
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