Thursday, July 10, 2008

Second-String Blondes: Cleo Moore

It's hard to believe, really, but Jayne Mansfield was the successful Marilyn Monroe clone, the Backup Bombshell who actually made a sort of career out of it. In her ample wake came dozens of stars and starlets, women who for better or worse never quite found a niche of their own.

Some shed the come-hither looks and became stars for other reasons (one thinks of Shelley Winters); some slid into second-leads and Bs before finding roles as character broads (Sheree North).

Some simply disappeared - like Cleo Moore:

Gown, furs, and cigarette: tools of the trade for the Femme Fatale

Vamping, bad-girling, and cleavage-wrangling kept her fairly busy for a decade or so, but when she left the screen in the late fifties, no one paid her much mind, and frankly, the films themselves don't make a strong case for her as an overlooked phenomenon.

She apparently had a quiet and happy enough private life between the end of her glamour days and her all-too-early death in the mid-70s.

I like to think she spent time like this, looking a little hard and weary but enjoying her garden, thinking of Hollywood, "I miss it; I miss it not; I miss it..."

As with what seems like virtually every performer who ever appeared in a film between 1910 and the late 70s, the Internet has done much to resurrect Moore's reputation, to the extent that her limited oeuvre makes possible.

I suspect that she would be perfectly pleased to be remembered, but not much more than that; behind that platinum hair and imposing frontage, it seems, beat a very sensible heart.

Cleo's portraits come from Brian's Drive in Theater - Thanks!

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