Dickie Moore Takes His Final Bow

Some years ago, we were lucky enough to attend a special event at NYC’s Film Forum: A Q&A with actors Jane Powell and her husband, Dickie Moore (he went by Dick in his post-Hollywood professional life, but we’ll always think of him as Dickie).

Powell, of course, achieved renown for her work in musicals for MGM, while Moore … well, Moore’s career is not so easily characterized. He started working at the age of 11 months in a 1927 silent picture called Our Beloved Rogue opposite John Barrymore, and he was featured in the Our Gang series in 1932–1933.

He also had the distinct honor of planting her first on-screen smooch on Shirley Temple in a feature called Miss Annie Rooney (1942). And at the age of 21, he played a deaf-mute young man opposite Robert Mitchum in one of the greatest of films noir, Out of the Past.

It was a delight to see these two Hollywood veterans in tandem that night. They couldn’t have been more charming, and their mutual respect and affection was readily apparent—in short, they were darned cute together—as they delighted those assembled with insider tales of Hollywood’s glory days.

So it with sadness that we share news of Mr. Moore’s passing on Thursday, just two days short of his 90th birthday.

Dickie Moore was perhaps the busiest of child actors (we can’t think of a more prolific one), and he acted opposite the greatest names of Hollywood’s Golden Age, including Warren William, Mary Astor, Ginger Rogers, Lionel Barrymore, Mae Clarke, Ann Harding, Spencer Tracy, Loretta Young, Glenda Farrell, Kay Francis, Barbara Stanwyck and so many more.

In his memoir, Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star, Dickie Moore bemoaned the struggles that so many child actors experience not only when they’re working steadily, but also as they grow older and their careers wane. We dearly hope and trust that Moore’s own post-Hollywood path was a bit smoother and that he experienced no regrets about his years in Hollywood. He certainly gave movie buffs from the 1930s through today much to be thankful for.

Rest in peace, Mr. Moore, and thanks.

Dickie Moore quote

Warren William Goes on the Run!

Warren WilliamThough he may not be well remembered by your average Jill or Joe, for movie buffs, Warren William is an icon of 1930s Hollywood—especially the pre-code years.

Though he played a few good guys, William’s typical character ranged from roué to to cad. He is, for fans of 1930s cinema, the man we love to hate. As Roger Fristoe wrote for tcm.com, “William played his fast-talking, opportunistic characters with such style and dash that Depression-era audiences often found themselves rooting for him.”

William was a creature of the city, more urbane sophisticate than rough-and-tumble he-man. One can easily picture, say, Clark Gable or Gary Cooper feeling quite at home in the great outdoors, but somehow not William. And yet, William remained trim and fit until the end. He was broad-shouldered and had a narrow waist, and one would assume, because he appeared so fit, that he was athletic and active, in the gym if not on various fields of play.

But how, then, to explain the way he ran? (His daffy dash begins at the 30-second mark in the video below.) Mind you, we’re in no position to mock anyone else’s athletic abilities (it’s usually we who are being mocked), but we’ll admit that William’s sidewinding caper (as seen here in The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt) made us giggle.

The right man for the job

movie poster for The Case of the Velvet ClawsWe’re about halfway through our first — and, as it happens, the very first — Perry Mason novel, The Case of the Velvet Claws, published in 1933.

Having read none of the later installments in the series, we have no idea what direction Erle Stanley Gardner took the series — and the characters — in, but in reading this first book, we can say that Warren William, who played Mason in a run of 1930s motion pictures, is much better suited to the role of Mason than Raymond Burr was.

It’s entirely possible that the character of Mason, as Gardner depicted him, changed over the years, but William is perfect for the brash, supremely confident rogue depicted in this first novel, which has more of a hard-boiled quality than we suspect the later novels in the series exhibited.

Wowed by Warren William

Though he may not be well remembered by your average Jill or Joe, for movie buffs, Warren William is an icon of talkies-era Hollywood—especially the pre-code years.

Though he played a few good guys, William’s typical character ranged from roué to to slimeball. He is, for fans of 1930s cinema, the man we love to hate. As Roger Fristoe wrote for tcm.com, “William played his fast-talking, opportunistic characters with such style and dash that Depression-era audiences often found themselves rooting for him.”

William’s characters were not fellows you’d trust with your sister—or your wife. Or your girlfriend. Or your cousin. Or your mother. But he had a slimy sort of savoir-faire that makes him but irresistible to on the screen, silver or small.

We rarely pass up an opportunity to see a Warren William picture, and neither should you. He’s the featured star today—Thursday, August 30—during TCM’s August Under the Stars festival. If you’re familiar with Warren’s work, you’re bound to find a title or two you’ve not seen among the 16 pictures being shown during his 24 hours in the spotlight.

And if you’ve not yet been exposed to William, set that alarm clock or DVR to ensure you don’t miss a minute of the fun, which kicks off at 6 a.m. ET with 1934’s Bedside, a prime pre-code that will serve a fine introduction to William’s slithery charms.