In a world where it is hip to be a fan of Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn, few people take the time to learn about the other lesser known stars from Old Hollywood. Sure if you scratch the surface a few may know who Cary Grant or even Bette Davis are, but say a name like... Cleo Moore and you mind as well be talking gibberish. Don't know who Cleo is either? That's okay, you will after I'm done with you!
I had heard her name a few times throughout my researching of miscellaneous things about Old Hollywood over the years, but it wasn't until I was chatting with a friend on Facebook and her name came up that I took a little more time to learn about this beautiful blonde. As it turns out my friend is a distant relative of hers, which peaked my interest even more.
Cleo was born and raised in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area... which just happens to be near my hometown of New Orleans. In 1944 she married Louisiana Governor Huey Long's son Palmer Long, but the union only lasted a few weeks. Later the next year, Cleo would pack up and move to California with her family with her sights set on making it in motion pictures.
While trying to make a name for herself in Hollywood, Cleo became a popular model, posing for many cheesecake style photos. It wouldn't be until 1948 that Cleo would actually clock in some on-screen time, thanks to Warner Bros. She was usually given bit parts in B films such as Embraceable You (1948) and Congo Bill (1948) and in 1950 she would jump ship to RKO Studios where she was given more of the same.
In 1952, Cleo signed to Columbia Pictures and was molded into their next big star. She dyed her hair platinum blonde to fill in as Columbia's blonde bombshell role. At the time all the studios were trying to bank off the success that FOX was having with Marilyn Monroe. She was pegged 'The Next Big Thing' and 'The Blonde Rita Hayworth.' She first gained attention in Nicholas Ray's film noir, On Dangerous Ground (1952).
Over the next few years, Cleo would enjoy success at the box office starring in such films as The Other Woman (1954) and One Girl's Confessions (1953). But with the signing of Kim Novak as Columbia's next 'it' girl, Cleo would be given roles in forgettable b films. After completing her last film with Columbia ,Women's Prison, in 1956, Moore signed on to Universal Studios where she was given a few more roles, but would never garner the attention she had enjoyed just a few years prior.
In 1957, Cleo retired from acting and settled into a non-Hollywood life with her second husband and dedicated herself as wife and mother to their child who was born in 1963. Sadly, Cleo would pass away in 1973 of a heart attack at the young age of 48.
|Cleo with fellow blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield|
In a period where curvacious blonde bombshells were being thrown at the public in hoards, Cleo struggled to find her footing amongst stars such as Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren, and is often forgotten about in today's world. Luckily for those of us who care to, we can re watch her films and give her the dues she was owed. Sometimes it's those forgotten b movie roles where some of these stars turned in their best performances.