Tag: Agnes Moorhead

Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown: #45-#43

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45)  Agnes Moorhead

If you say Agnes Moorhead and old timer radio, the most natural association may be with, “Sorry, Wrong Number” the most famous Suspense play ever broadcast back on May 25, 1943. Moorhead’s performance as Mrs. Elbert Stevenson was so brilliant that she was called to deliver a stunning seven encore performances on Suspense  the last in 1960. That alone doesn’t put Moorhead on the list. However, her radio career was filled with memorable performances. She was the first Margo Lane (opposite Orson Welles on The Shadow, she was cast as Lionel Barrymore’s long-suffering housekeeper in Mayor of the Town and she played Lara, Superman’s Kryptonian mother in the first episode of Superman. These highlights were only explanation points on a career of solid performance that defined radio.

44) Jackson Beck

Jackson Beck had many roles in radio. He starred for Ziv as that once-popular private detective Philo Vance. However, where he really distinguished himself was on Superman. He’s best known as the announcer of that program who delivered the show’s memorably opening. However, Beck showed flexibility by not only announcing, but also acting in the show. As the Jimmy Olsen character grew up on the radio, he took on the role of Beany Martin, a copyboy. He also had the distinction of being the first actor to portray Batman’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth.  His contributions to radio drama continued long after Superman left the air in 1951. He was probably the biggest to appear on the radio in the September 30, 1962 golden age of radio finale as he appeared in “The Tip Off Matter” on Yours Truly Johnny Dollar. He continued to make radio appearances frequently with numerous appearance on radio revival shows such as Theater Five, the General Mills Adventure Theater, and The CBS Mystery Theater. 

43)  Jack Moyles

For starring roles, Moyles was best known as Rocky Jordan.  He began the role in 1945 in A Man Called Jordan set in the city of Istanbul towards the end of the 2nd World War. The series continued for two years as a fifteen minute daily serial and then was revived in 1948 as Rocky Jordan with Rocky now living in Cairo setting up his Cafe Tambourine not far from the Mosque Sultan Hassan. The show beared a not too coincidental similarity to Casablanca which featured Humphrey Bogart playing an America cafe owner hiding from trouble in his past, ditto Rocky Jordan, whose trouble is never named.  Rocky Jordan may have been the finest illustrations of radio’s ability to take listeners to an entirely different time and place through the use of sound and music.

Starring in one of radio’s most original adventure dramas might be worth consideration for this list, but what earns Moyles such a high spot is that before, after, and during the Rocky Jordan run he remained a consummate radio character actor.  His veteran leadership helped keep radio alive as he frequently appeared as a cop, an insurance agent, or a crook on Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, he was the by the book Major Daggett who clashed with Raymond Burr on Fort Laramie.  He also regularly appeared on Gunsmoke and Fort Laramie. So, in addition to his major starring role on Rocky Jordan, throughout this long radio career, Moyles was one of those actors who held radio together.

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Video Theater 002: The Bat

A mystery writer (Agnes Moorhead) finds herself in the middle of a real life murder mystery in a small town and up against a dangerous serial killer who victimizes women and calls himself “The Bat.” Vincent Price also co-stars.

Rated PG for Violence.

Released: August 9, 1959