Agnes Moorehead: Queen of Horror, Suspense, and the Supernatural

Agnes Moorehead

Agnes Moorehead, cover of I Love the Illusion, by Charles Tranberg.

While researching materials for the Halloween display from the Mass Media and Culture collections, one name kept popping up: Agnes Moorehead (1900 – 1974). Her repertoire extends from the golden years of radio to popular television, from movies to the stage. She also had a special flair for horror, suspense, and the supernatural.

Moorehead’s work in radio drama included participation in Mercury Theater on the Air and a role as Margo Lane on The Shadow, co-starring with Orson Welles. In the CBS show Suspense, her greatest success was her incredible performance as Mrs. Stevenson in the quintessential horror, Lucille Fletcher’s “Sorry, Wrong Number.”

Spooky Special Collections Display, containing a feature of Agnes Moorehead's work in the realm of suspense and supernatural.

Spooky Special Collections Display, containing a feature of Agnes Moorehead’s work in the realm of suspense and supernatural.

Her role as Mrs. Stevenson later inspired director Douglas Heyes to cast Moorehead in an episode of The Twilight Zone, where she played an old woman attacked by miniature aliens. On stage, Moorehead played Donna Ana in Don Juan in Hell. Later, Moorehead was recruited to play Endora on the television comedy Bewitched. A versatile and respected actress, Moorehead succeeded across genres and performing-arts mediums, and especially made her mark on the world of the strange and supernatural.

Moorehead is just one of the many actresses and actors featured in the Mass Media and Culture collections in Special Collections and University Archives at UMD. There are a lot of resources pertaining to spooky and otherworldly subjects; if you ever feel like researching terror in radio, television, or movies, or if you just want to revisit the history of your favorite shows, this is a great place to start! Contact us for more information.