Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Colleen Moore (*1899-1988)

The American born pixie vowed early on that she would one day become a movie star. As a child she had a love for two things, movies and dolls. She collected film stars autographs and left a blank page in her scrap book right along side Mary Pickford's for her own one day.

As a young girl she created a stock company with her brother performing on stage in plays and for her neighborhood via the top of piano crates.  Her love of movies and drive wouldn't stop at local childhood performances.  Luckily for Colleen her uncle, an editor for the Chicago Examiner was owed a favor by the great director D.W. Griffith and Colleen was hired by his studio in 1917.  (Colleens uncle Walter Howey helped get D.W. Griffiths first two films "Birth Of A Nation" and "Intolerance" past the sensors).

Colleen's first credited film was "The Bad Boy" 1917 then she appeared in Westerns opposite the great cowboy actor Tom Mix.  In the 1920's she cut her hair into her now famous bob which launched her very successful career playing flappers and in comedies. Colleens first starring role was playing Annie in "Little Orphan Annie" 1918.  During the 1920's Colleen was loaned out by her studio several times where she appeared in the King Vidor film "The Sky Pilot" 1921 and with John Barrymore in "The Lotus Eaters". It was Colleens role in "Flaming Youth" 1923 that got her noticed and labeled as one of the earliest flappers. It was also during the production of this film that Colleen married her first husband John McCormick a publicity man who's eyes she caught after seeing her photographs.. By 1927 Colleen was at the top of the American box office making $12,500 a week, much of which she invested but more on that later. You can view Colleen's mansion where she resided at the height of her fame HERE.

Colleen with Gary Cooper "Lilac Time"  1928

With the advent of talkies in 1929 Colleen took a break from acting. It was during this time that she married husband Albert Scott who was a very successful New York based stock broker. Colleen spent her hiatus hosting lavish parties at her Bel Air home, on occasion for the US Olympic Yachting Team. (The 1932 summer Olympics we're hosted in Los Angeles)  You can view Colleen's Bel Air mansion HERE.

click on autograph from my collection and photo's for a closer view

Divorced again by 1933 Colleen returned to acting appearing in a couple of not so successful films prompting her retirement from acting. She appeared in over 30 films between 1917 and 1934. Colleen maintained friendships with director King Vidor and actress Mary Pickford throughout their lives (a post on Mary to follow).  Ms Moore later married widower Homer Hargrave and helped in raising his children. Colleen never had children of her own.

click images to enlarge

In the 1960's Colleen formed a television and film production company with King Vidor called Vid-More Productions. Until their business venture they had not seen one other in 40 years. Colleen had vowed to never see him again after a brief affair in the 1920's. Due to investing her earnings in the stock market Colleen was one of the few actresses who instead of spending frivolously amassed a small fortune and remained wealthy the rest of her life due to her great business sense. (Marrying not one but two stock brokers early on was a wise choice no doubt)  Colleen published two books in the 1960's one her autobiography titled Silent Star and a book titled How Women Can Make Money in the Stock Market. 

Colleen passed away from cancer at the age of 88. The spirited brunette was cremated and her ashes were scattered.

 *Colleens actual birth date has been disputed and her birth date is listed from 1899 to 1902.  It's not uncommon for actresses to have added a few years or shaved off a couple from their age to appease the studios and depending on their first movie roles.  Interestingly at any of the above birth dates Colleen would have played Little Orphan Annie at the age of 16 to actually being 19 at the time. 

in "Lilac Time" 1928

Interesting Colleen Moore Facts:
Colleen was one of the WAMPAS baby stars of 1922. 

Colleen donated her own copy of "Flaming Youth" to a museum but unfortunately the museum never got around to restoring the film and it deteriorated.

F.Scott Fitzgerald once wrote of her "I was the spark that lit up "Flaming Youth", Colleen Moore was the torch. What little things we are to have caused all that trouble"

She had a love of Doll Houses and they became a passionate hobby of hers. She set about building the grandest one to ever be built which she named The Enchanted Castle. Once crafted and complete with miniatures at a height of 8 feet it cost over $500,000. It has every detail including its own library with  miniature versions of great works that includes a miniature copy of  "Tarzan of the Apes" which is hand signed by Tarzan's creator Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Doll House is now on display at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. This is one of eight doll houses Colleen owned during her lifetime.

She had one green eye and one blue eye.

Below are photos of Colleen's Doll House that's now on display as noted above

The gated entrance to Colleen's Doll House now on display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

The Fantasy Garden of the doll house

The Grand Hall of the doll house

A beautifully done bedroom in Colleen's Doll House

Colleen showing some of her doll house miniatures.

Thank you for stopping by and please come back and visit.


  1. Isn't the first picture of Louise Brooks?

  2. Bob,
    I apologize for taking so long to get back with you! Working on the upcoming Blogathon but I'll check my photos and their descriptions and get back with you no later than Tuesday! : )
    I'm pretty sure it's Colleen but if not I'll scan another one of Colleen and hope you'll continue to come back to visit.

  3. It's a great picture, in any case. I love both Colleen and Louise, and indeed am fascinated by all the film stars of the silent era. So chances are good that I'll be back. I have the blog bookmarked.

  4. I am very much interested in gathering information on Colleen's involvement in the Little Oprhan Annie film. I am researching the Orphan Annie character that was created by James Whitcomb Riley, and trying to get connections (if there are any) between his creation and the comic strip. The Little Orphan Annie film of 1918 is interesting because it introduces the "orphanage" element - where Annie entertains her fellow orphans with fantastic stories, and then she goes onto live with a wealthy family. I see early elements of the Harold Gray comic strip in this theme. Any info would be greatly appreciated!

    1. The film looks like it was originally going to be a straightforward adaptation of the poem, probably in two or three reels. The story was then expanded to include a story of Orphant Annie in addition to the adaptation. Selig wasn't convinced that feature-lengthed films had a future, but decided to make Orphant Annie a feature anyhow. The backstory of Annie was drawn from a book published sometime after the poem on the story of the girl who came to Whitcomb's family and was the basis of the character. There is more information in my book "Colleen Moore: A Biography of the Silent Film Star." Most of the information came from the Margaret Herrick Library. Check my notes for the Orphant Annie chapter and you should find the file numbers and collections I researched. There was enough information to give a good idea of the evolution of the story. Orphant Annie comes across as a tragic and somewhat disturbed young girl, and while in most versions she dies at the end, they still manage to pull a happy end from that. I understand additional scenes from the film were discovered some time ago but have yet to be worked into a restoration.

    2. I will have to get your book!! I post comments on different Blogs from time to time - - and it took me awhile to find my way back here! Wish there was some way I would know when there was a response!

      Anyway - - Thank you for your response - -and I will be sure to get your book.

      If you come across any other info - - I would appreciate it!

    3. Oh and By the Way - - I have a Facebook Page - - that is sort of my "Home Page" for now. It is

      I also have Mary Alice's Family Tree on a My Heritage Website:

      You can always reach me at


  5. Brigette,
    I'll see what I can find out for you. I'm actually reading a book about Colleen and King Vidor now.
    Thanks for stopping by and I do hope you'll be a frequent reader of my blog.

    1. If you can point me in the direction of some good info - - I would appreciate it. I posted my contact info in my reply above!