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Agnes Moorehead: Short Biography

This LibGuide is designed to introduce the Muskingum community to the life and work of our 1923 alumna, Agnes Moorehead.

A short biography of Agnes Moorehead

Agnes Moorehead (1900-1974) was born in Clinton, MA, in 1900 to Presbyterian minister John Henderson Moorehead (1869-1938) and Mary McCauley Moorehead (1883-1990).

While always interested in an acting career, her father insisted she get an education, and in 1919 she started her undergraduate career at Muskingum College. While at Muskingum, Moorehead was active in Glee Club, athletics, drama, and was a member of Delta Gamma Theta.

She graduated in 1923 with a degree in Biology. Moorehead then taught public school in Wisconsin while pursuing her Master’s degree in English and public speaking at the University of Wisconsin. After completing her Master’s degree, she studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, where she graduated with honors.

Moorehead had an unsteady early stage career, which is not at all unusual, and eventually found a thriving and respected career in radio. In 1937, she joined Orson Welles’s Mercury Players, eventually making her way to Hollywood with the troupe. She made her film debut as the mother of Charles Foster Kane in Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941). Her next film with Welles, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), garnered her first Academy Award nomination. She was nominated three more times.

She was twice nominated and twice won a Golden Globe award and was nominated seven times for an Emmy, six for the role that garnered her the most recognition, Endora on Bewitched. Her gust starring role on a 1967 episode of The Wild Wild West resulted in an Emmy win; the Emmy is on display here.

In 1947, Moorehead received an Honorary Doctorate from Muskingum College.  She served as vice president of Muskingum’s development campaign from 1953 to 1962 and was a member of the Board of Trustees just before her death in 1974.

In her will, Moorehead established the Agnes Moorehead Scholarship Fund and donated half of her papers and memorabilia to Muskingum College. This display case will showcase her work and these items on a rotating basis.

In 2004, Muskingum University acquired Moorehead’s Rix Mills home and property, which had been in her family for many generations. It is used for university retreats and events.