Ladies on Radio
Now playing the radio works of Mercedes McCambridge and Agnes Moorehead.
Carlotta Mercedes Agnes McCambridge (March 16, 1916 – March 2, 2004) was an American actress of radio, stage, film, and television. Orson Welles called her "the world's greatest living radio actress." She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for All the King's Men (1949) and was nominated in the same category for Giant (1956). She also provided the voice of Pazuzu in The Exorcist (1973).
She began her career as a radio actor during the 1930s while also performing on Broadway and continued through the 40s and 50s. In 1941, she played Judy's girl friend in A Date with Judy. She had the title role in Defense Attorney, a crime drama broadcast on ABC in 1951-52. Her other work on radio included: Lights Out, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, Bulldog Drummond, Gang Busters, Murder at Midnight, Studio One, Screen Directors Playhouse, Ford Theater, Various characters on the radio series I Love A Mystery. She frequently did feature roles on the CBS Radio Mystery Theater. During a radio interview several years ago. Mercedes McCambridge, told a story of how during her first audition for a radio series. She was asked to scream! She said there were several actresses in waiting for the part. And she didn't think she would get the part. So, she gave it her all. She bellowed out a violent blood curdling scream, and scattered her string of pearls necklace all over the floor in the studio!
Agnes Robertson Moorehead (December 6, 1900 – April 30, 1974) was an American actress whose career of six decades included work in radio, stage, film, and television. She is chiefly known for her role as Endora on the television series Bewitched. She was also notable for her film roles in Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, All That Heaven Allows, Show Boat and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte. While rarely playing leads in films, Moorehead's skill at character development and range earned her one Primetime Emmy Award and two Golden Globe awards in addition to four Academy Award and six Emmy Award nominations. Moorehead's transition totelevision won acclaim for drama and comedy. She could play many different types, but often portrayed haughty, arrogant characters.
Moorehead's early career was unsteady, and, although she was able to find stage work, she was often unemployed and forced to go hungry. She later recalled going four days without food, and said that it had taught her "the value of a dollar". She found work in radio and was soon in demand, often working on several programs in a single day. She believed that it offered her excellent training and allowed her to develop her voice to create a variety of characterizations.
Moorehead met Orson Welles, and by 1937 was one of his principal Mercury Players, along with Joseph Cotten. She performed in his The Mercury Theatre on the Air radio adaptations, and hada regular role opposite Welles in the serial The Shadow as Margo Lane. In 1939, Welles moved the Mercury Theatre to Hollywood, where he started working for RKO Pictures. Several of his radio performers joined him, and Moorehead made her film debut as his mother in Citizen Kane (1941), considered one of the best films ever made. She was featured in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Welles's second film, and received the New York Film Critics Award and an Academy Award nomination for her performance. She also appeared in the Mercury film production, Journey Into Fear (1943).
Moorehead's first radio role was a replacement of Dorothy Denvir's role as Min Gump in The Gumps. During the 1940s and 1950s, Moorehead was one of the most in-demand actresses for radio dramas, especially on the CBS show Suspense. During the 946-episode-run of Suspense, Moorehead was cast in more episodes than any other actor or actress. She was often introduced on the show as the "first lady of Suspense". Moorehead's most successful appearance on Suspense was in the legendary play Sorry, Wrong Number, written by Lucille Fletcher, broadcast on May 18, 1943. Moorehead played a selfish, neurotic woman who overhears a murder being plotted via crossed phone wires and eventually realizes she is the intended victim. She recreated the performance six times for Suspense and several times on other radio shows, always using her original, dog-eared script.
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