Monday, June 14, 2010

Pretty Pauline Moore

Pauline Moore
June 14, 1914 - December 7, 2001

Born in Harrisburg, Pa., Pauline Moore had a busy and vibrant career as an actress and model in the 1920s and 30s. That she never made the "big time" in Hollywood is one of the unfathomable mysteries of the era. Her attractiveness cannot be questioned. Her throaty, quirky voice was appealing and her talent evident.

In a 1990 interview, Pauline remarked "I was the girl who was always being discovered by the press. 'Watch this girl', a reviewer would say, and then forget to. The trouble was, if you were any good at all at doing B movies, then the more B movies you did." B movies, however, have a way of winning a place in fan's hearts that is unassailable.

Pauline's modeling career boasted of covers for Ladies Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, and McCalls. Her image graces one of the collectible Coca Cola trays from 1934. She is the "Hostess Girl".

Pauline earned her acting stripes with the Edna Preston Players touring in repertoire throughout the eastern seaboard. Her Broadway debut in 1921 was in a David Belasco revival of Eugene Walter's The Easiest Way. Many non-hits came her way as in Eugene O'Neill's The Fountain which ran for 28 performances in 1925 and the anarchist's delight Ernst Toller's Man and the Masses which had a 32-night run in 1924.

It must have been joyous to have a hit when Earl Carroll's Murder at the Vanities opened in 1933. The show ran for 207 performances and was filmed in 1934 by Mitchell Leisen. Her last play was 1934s Dance With Your Gods by Kenneth Perkins. Running for a scant 9 performances, it has the distinction of introducing a young Lena Horne.

Pauline's movie career began as one of Valerie Hobson's uncredited bridesmaids in 1931s Frankenstein. Better roles came Pauline's way later in the decade after signing with Fox although not in A level pictures with the deserved publicity build-up. 1938s Three Blind Mice is a comedy from the three girls on the hunt for rich husbands formula. Loretta Young's career did nothing but gain momentum and she would win an Oscar and television fame as well. Marjorie Weaver, like Pauline, would enliven B pictures such as Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise and Mike Shayne Private Detective.

Roy Rogers, Pauline Moore, Gabby Hayes
Young Buffalo Bill, 1940

Young western fans probably took no notice of the talent behind the stock characters setting up the longed-for action sequences, but this trio knew their business and always gave one hundred percent. Pauline could almost give Dale Evans a run for her money, appearing with Roy in 5 pictures between 1939 - 1941: Days of Jesse James, Young Buffalo Bill, The Carson City Kid, Colorado, and Arkansas Judge. Also unafraid to work with children, Pauline is featured with Jane Withers in Wild and Woolly and The Arizona Wildcat, and with the Dionne Quintuplets in Five of a Kind.

If you don't happen to be a fan of westerns or quintuplets you will find Pauline an incandescent Lady Constance in 1939s The Three Musketeers opposite Don Ameche and the Ritz Brothers. She's a sympathetic teacher in 1937s Heidi starring Shirley Temple, and the personification of a dream as Ann Rutledge in John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln.

Keye Luke, Pauline Moore

Pauline's first appearance of three Charlie Chan features is Charlie Chan at the Olympics, 1937. It is a gold medal winner featuring archival footage of the Berlin games. Pauline is athlete Betty Adams, a teammate of Keye Luke's Lee Chan and the romantic interest for Alan "Rocky" Lane. She's a strong rooter of Jesse Owens and a great one for screaming for help when a kidnapping is in progress. Foreign spies will stop at nothing to get their hands on an aviation remote control device, but they have another thing coming when they decide to use a nice American girl as an unwitting smuggler!

The second Chan to star Sidney Toler, Charlie Chan in Reno, 1939 is great fun. What a grand double bill it would make with The Women for your next movie night. Pauline plays Mary Whitman who needs old friend Charlie's help when she's accused of murdering the woman who broke up her marriage. Catty gals, great fashions, and just the right amount - not too much - of laughs from Sen Yung and Slim Summerville give this picture major oomph.

As backstage murder mysteries go, Charlie Chan at Treasure Island, 1939 (what was in the water those Hollywood folks were drinking that year?!) is one of the best. Pauline is Eve Cairo, mind reader. Her boyfriend, a reporter played by Douglas Fowley and boss, a magician played by Caesar Romero are out to unmask a phony psychic and maybe find a murderer. Twists, turns and interesting character actors make it a must-see for newcomers to the series and an honoured favourite among fans.

Pauline's husband objected to her career and a move east during WW2 curtailed the actress's options. After raising her family and becoming involved in church work which including writing plays, the twice-widowed mother of three did a smattering of television and commercial work, including Death Valley DaysStudio 57, Medic, and The Littlest Hobo. Pauline lived her later years close to family in Sequim, Washington, and passed away from ALS in 2001.

Pauline Moore's enchanting presence in much-loved genre films keeps her alive for generations of classic movie fans.

You will enjoy this interview with Pauline from Mike Fitzgerald's Western Clippings.


  1. Yes, Brian. The good inspector goes wherever he is needed.

  2. She was wonderful in "Charlie Chan at the Olympics". I bet in that alternate universe where Spock has a beard (what?) she's a major star!

  3. I LOVE 'B' movies. They're fun movies, not pretentious.
    The Charlie Chan series features so many wonderful performers. A stock company second to none!

  4. Wow, thank you for that story about Pauline Moore. I did not know anything about her. I'll have to look into her more!

  5. Wish I saw this sooner, but better late than never! Pauline Moore is one of the many great, nearly forgotten actresses!

    I've watched this lady in Charlie Chan at Treasure Island over a dozen times (and counting); she's cool!

    Great post, Caftan Woman!

  6. Fang Shih-yu, I'm so pleased you found your way to the blog on the lovely Pauline Moore. She sparkled in her Chan appearances.

  7. I especially enjoyed Moore as Ann Rutledge in YOUNG MR. LINCOLN. Thank you for the lovely tribute to Moore!

    Best wishes,

  8. She is my great Aunt on my Mom's side! My little claim to fame! My favorite Film that she was in was Heidi!

    1. Thank you for your charming comment. You have put me in a great mood to see Heidi again.



Terence Towles Canote at A Shroud of Thoughts is hosting The 8th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon . The popular blogathon is runn...