Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dickie Moore R.I.P.

Dickie Moore, who appeared in many "Our Gang" comedy shorts and starred as a child actor in many feature films, died on September 7 2015 at the age of 89.

John Richard "Dickie" Moore, Jr. was born on September 12 1925 in Los Angeles, California. He was barely a toddler when he made his film debut in The Beloved Rogue in 1927. Over the next few years he appeared in such films as Madame X (1929), Let Us Be Gay (1930), Passion Flower (1930), Aloha (1931), The Squaw Man (1931), Manhattan Parade (1931), So Big! (1932), Winner Take All (1932),   Blonde Venus (1932), Gabriel Over the White House (1933), and  Man's Castle (1933). In 1932 Dickie Moore began appearing in Hal Roach's "Our Gang" shorts. He ultimately appeared in only eight of the shorts, but had a significant role as the leader of the gang.

In 1933 Dickie Moore left the "Our Gang" shorts for more lucrative work in feature films. Even as he was appearing in the "Our Gang" films, he starred in the title role in the 1933 version of Oliver Twist. In the mid to late Thirties he appeared in such films as Little Men (1934), Peter Ibbetson (1935), The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), Madame X (1937), The Gladiator (1938), and Lincoln in the White House (1939).

The Forties saw Dickie Moore appear in such films as Sergeant York (1941), Miss Annie Rooney (1942), The Song of Bernadette (1943), Youth Runs Wild (1944), Sweet and Low-Down (1944), Out of the Past (1947), Dangerous Years (1947), Bad Boy (1949), Boy and the Eagle (1949), and Cody of the Pony Express. He made his television debut in 1949 playing Jeff in episodes of Captain Video and His Video Rangers. During World War II Dickie Moore served in the United States Army. He wrote for Stars and Stripes in the Pacific Theatre. Following the war he studied journalism at Los Angeles City College.

By the Fifties Dickie Moore was being billed as "Dick Moore", a name more fitting for a young man. He appeared in the films The Member of the Wedding (1952) and Eight Iron Men (1952). On television he guest starred on the shows Sure as Fate, Starlight Theatre, Lux Video Theatre, The Man Behind the Badge, and The Web. His last appearance was in an episode of Omnibus in 1957.

In 1966 Mr. Moore founded a public relations firm that operated for 44 years. In 1984 he published the book Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: (But Don't Have Sex or Take the Car), which detailed his experiences as a child actor in Hollywood, as well as those of other former child actors. In 1988 he married actress Jane Powell. The two remained married until his death.

Dickie Moore numbers among the most successful child actors of all time. The reason is not hard to find. He had an extremely naturalistic acting style. In an era when many child actors were playing saccharine Hollywood creations, Mr. Moore was playing boys who could actually exist in real life. This made him a perfect fit in the "Our Gang" comedies, as Hal Roach encouraged his young actors to behave like normal kids in the shorts. If Dickie Moore is remembered as a child actor today, it is then because he acted like children in real life and not some Hollywood fantasy of how children should be.

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