To Sound the Notes of Human Passion

Agnes Moorehead - New York, New York
Broadcast during the 1950s
Agnes Moorehead

Stage, film and television actress Agnes Moorehead believes her life was made full by having a strong faith in God, pursuing truth, and committing her talents to the theater.

“What you are to be you are now becoming.” How often these words echo in my brain as the years fly by. It was a favorite saying of the president of my college.

My life has been ruled by my belief. I am a fundamentalist and believe in the efficacy of prayer. I believe that one should work for the glory of God and not for personal glory. I believe that great joy comes when one hungers after self-improvement. Of course it is human to enjoy fame but, strangely enough, I believe that anonymity contributes to such joy.

“As a man thinketh so is he.” Man’s thoughts are his feelings. I believe that one should not entertain false ideas about himself. I believe in having the moral courage to say and do what one think: is right. One can be semi-starved for truth. I believe this truth is his inner spring of vision and action. What is more honorable than having clear sight and the courage to maintain it? I believe such clarity is very rare. “Beauty is Truth” but truth is only one of the elements of one’s ultimate aim. I believe that one cannot create nobility without being noble.

I am in a creative profession — a creative art that is not stimulated or inspired by drudgery or vileness or meanness. An actor’s life is difficult. It requires study and work of many kinds. It requires bravery, forbearance and self-sacrifice. The punishment for transgressions is great. I believe the partaking of the spirit, this inner spring of truth, the clarity of thought, the hunger for self-improvement, courage and integrity, are vital to the artist in his ability to reach man’s heart. As all arts have a bearing on our time and will live beyond it, so a creative artist must sound the notes of human passion which are common to all mankind. Who knows but that sound will echo and re-echo across endless time.

The theater is not merely a place of amusement. It is a living power and should be used for good and not evil. I believe it can be a great educational medium, teaching an audience many things at would otherwise be lost to them. It widens the sympathies and broadens the intellect and sweetens the heart.

I believe Life with all its pain and sorrows is a beautiful, precious gift and I believe I must strive to reproduce its beauty by holding fast to this ideal by doing my duty without regard to personal ambition.

I believe that in the course of living a life, of embarking on a goal and the certain truths that go with honest living-after these percepts have been formulated-then one must set out alone, single-handedly, uncompromisingly in these tenets. No one else can do it for you.

It is difficult to place this analysis within the framework of a single sentence. I once saw it summed up in a tableau over a proscenium arch in a theater in Chicago. It said, “You yourself must set flame to the torches which you have brought.”

Agnes Moorehead entered show business as part of Orson Welles’ Mecury Theatre radio troupe, and went on to play in two of his movies: Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons. She won a Golden Globe Award for her appearance in “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1964), and garnered six Emmy nominations for playing Endora in the long-running television comedy “Bewitched."