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Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Shake off the Corona Bug with Dickie Moore’s Jitterbug (and his Underwood Typewriter)

When the great Albert Tangora took umbrage to a $2500 cut in his annual salary and jumped camp from Underwood to Royal in 1935, it was a huge spoke in the wheels of Underwood’s powerful publicity machine. Tangora quickly ended Underwood’s near-30-year stranglehold on the world speed typing title, and Underwood responded by extending its substantial advertising budget to embrace Hollywood and Broadway stars, sports commentators and popular musicians, as well as beauty queens and, of course, its remaining loyal speed typists, like George Hossfield and Grace Phelan. By May 1939, Underwood had signed up Olivia De Haviland, Mary Martin, Frederic March, Joan Bennett, Evelyn Venable, Priscilla Lane, Jean Parker, Bonita Granville (Nancy Drew), Linda Gray, Rosella Towne, a young Jane Withers, Sabu Dastagir (Elephant Boy), William Gargan, Maurice Evans, Jeffrey Lyon, comedians Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson and radio personalities singer Kate Smith and Stan Lomax. All agreed to be photographed using standard and portable Underwoods, and by doing so to endorse the Underwood brand.

Marlene Dietrich with Dickie Moore in Blonde Venus.
Another of the movie stars involved in this Underwood promotion was child actor Dickie Moore, born John Richard Moore Jr in Los Angeles on September 12, 1925. When Moore died, in Wilton, Connecticut in 2015, five days before his 90th birthday, he was one of the last surviving actors to have appeared in silent film. A busy and popular actor during his childhood and youth, he appeared in more than 100 films until the 1950s. Among his most notable appearances were in the Our Gang series and in films such as Oliver Twist, Blonde Venus, Sergeant York and Out of the Past.

Moore made his film debut, aged one, in 1927, in the silent film The Beloved Rogue, left, in which he portrayed John Barrymore's character as a one-year-old baby. He had a significant role as Marlene Dietrich's son in Blonde Venus (1932). Moore went on to teach and write books about acting, edit Equity News, and produce an Oscar-nominated short film (The Boy and the Eagle). In 1984, Moore published Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (But Don't Have Sex or Take the Car), a book about his and others' experiences as child actors. While working on this book, Moore met and later married Jayne Powell.

Jane Powell and Moore at the 1987 Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

Moore is also famous for giving Shirley Temple her first romantic onscreen kiss, in the film Miss Annie Rooney (Moore said it was his first kiss ever). It was in this 1942 that Temple played the title role of a teenager from a humble background who falls in love with a 16-year-old rich high school boy (Marty White, played by Moore). She is snubbed by his social set, but, when her father (William Gargan) invents a rubber synthetic substitute, her prestige rises. Her jitterbug dancing skills also impress.

Moore and Shirley Temple in Miss Annie Rooney.

To “America's Pet” Shirley Temple. Below, a younger Shirley

Another child star interviewed by Moore for his book was Margaret O'Brien, below.
William Gargan, below, played  Shirley Temple's father in Miss Annie Rooney.
So let's blow those Covid blues away!

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