Dickie Moore, child star of the 1930s, dies at 89
NEW YORK (AP) — Dick "Dickie" Moore, a saucer-eyed child star of the 1930s who appeared in "Our Gang" comedies, gave Shirley Temple her first screen kiss and was featured in many major Hollywood productions, has died. He was 89.
Helaine Feldman, a senior staff member at Dick Moore & Associates Inc., confirmed that Moore died Monday in Connecticut.
While not as famous as Temple or Mickey Rooney, Moore was a veteran of dozens of films, many of them top-drawer productions directed by such greats as Cecil B. DeMille ("The Squaw Man"), Ernst Lubitsch ("Heaven Can Wait") and Josef von Sternberg ("Blonde Venus").
He also wrote a 1984 book about the child star business, called "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: But Don't Have Sex or Take the Car."
He was a member of producer Hal Roach's "Our Gang" ("Little Rascals") troupe in 1932-33, playing alongside Spanky McFarland, Stymie Beard and other Gang stars in such shorts as "Free Wheeling," ''Hook and Ladder" and "Mush and Milk."
But unlike Spanky and the Gang, Moore wasn't limited to Roach's comedies.
The handsome actor was Marlene Dietrich's little boy in her 1932 film "Blonde Venus." He recalled her as "warm and friendly" but saying it made him uncomfortable when she gave him a bath. That same year he played the leading lady's little brother in the wacky W.C. Fields-Jack Oakie concoction "Million Dollar Legs," and in 1933 he got the title role in a version of "Oliver Twist."
Among his many roles were Julius Reuter as a boy in "A Dispatch from Reuter's"; war hero Alvin York's (Gary Cooper's) brother in "Sgt. York"; the boy that Louis Pasteur cured of rabies in "The Story of Louis Pasteur"; and heroine Barbara Stanwyck's young son in "So Big."
In 1942, toward the end of his (and her) child star career, he gave Temple her first screen kiss in "Miss Annie Rooney." As a young man, he had a featured role in the 1947 film noir classic "Out of the Past," which starred Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum.
For his 1984 book, he mixed personal reminiscences — many of them painful — with interviews with dozens of his former colleagues and rivals.
"We lied about my age," he wrote. "At eight, we said that I was seven; at nine, we said I was eight. ... When I turned 11, we finally told the truth.
"Many children lied about their ages, and the studios lied for them. It fostered the idea that we were precocious. ... Studios and parents with investments to protect wanted us to stay the productive kids we were."
Moore was born on Sept. 12, 1925, in Los Angeles and had his film debut a year and a half later in John Barrymore's "The Beloved Rogue." As his film career waned, he appeared in television shows such as "Captain Video and His Video Rangers."
As an adult, he was a correspondent for Stars and Stripes during World War II and later became a public relations executive, establishing Dick Moore & Associates Inc. in New York. He served as the public relations director for Actors' Equity Association and was publisher of Equity News.
He also coproduced, co-directed and acted in a two-reel short subject called "The Boy and the Eagle" that was nominated for an Academy Award in 1949. His last film was "The Member of the Wedding" in 1952
He met actress-singer Jane Powell while researching his book and married her in 1988. He is also survived by a sister, the Hollywood publicist Pat Kingsley; son, Kevin Moore, and by several grandchildren.
Moore's death comes only a few days after the passing of another former "Our Gang" member, Jean Darling.
This report contains biographical material compiled by former AP staffer Polly Anderson.