Grace Moore

Grace Moore

Grace Moore (December 5, 1898 - January 26, 1947) was an American operatic soprano and Academy Award-nominated actress in musical theatre and film, nicknamed the "Tennessee Nightingale." Her films helped to popularize opera by bringing it to a larger audience.


Early life

Moore was born Mary Willie Grace Moore on December 5, 1898 (but some sources give her birth year as 1901) to Richard Lawson Moore and Jane ("née" Stokely) Moore in the community of Slabtown (now considered part of Del Rio) in Cocke County, Tennessee. The family relocated to Jellico, Tennessee when she was a child. After high school in Jellico, she studied briefly at Ward-Belmont College in NashvilleZepp, George. [ Opera star trained at Ward-Belmont] "The Tennessean", April 26, 2006.] before moving to Washington, D.C. and New York City to continue her musical training and begin her career.


Musical theatre

Grace Moore's first Broadway appearance was in 1920 in the musical "Hitchy-Koo", by Jerome Kern. In 1922 and 1923 she appeared in the second and third of Irving Berlin's series of four Music Box Revues. In the 1923 edition she and John Steel introduced Berlin's song "What'll I Do". When Moore sang "An Orange Grove in California," orange blossom perfume was wafted through the theater. [New World Records, [ "Follies, Scandals & Other Diversions: From Ziegfeld to the Shuberts", New World NW 215, liner notes] .]

In 1932 she appeared on Broadway in the short-lived operetta "The DuBarry" by Karl Millöcker.


After training in France, Moore made her operatic debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on February 7, 1928, singing the role of Mimì in Giacomo Puccini's "La bohème". She debuted at the Opera-Comique in Paris on September 29, 1928 in the same role, which she also performed in a royal command performance at Covent Garden in London on June 6, 1935. During her sixteen seasons with the Metropolitan Opera, she sang in several Italian and French operas as well as the title roles in "Tosca", "Manon", and "Louise". "Louise" was her favorite opera and is widely considered to have been her greatest role (a scene of Moore singing an aria from this opera can be seen at [ YouTube] ).

In the 1930s and 1940s she gave concert performances throughout the United States and Europe, performing a repertoire of operatic selections and other songs in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and English. During World War II she was active in the USO, entertaining American troops abroad.Frank H. McClung Museum, [ Grace Moore Concert Gown] . University of Tennessee, Knoxville.]


Attracted to Hollywood in the early years of "talking pictures," Moore's first screen role was as Jenny Lind in the 1930 film "A Lady's Morals", produced for MGM by Irving Thalberg and directed by Sidney Franklin. ["New York Times", " [ A Lady's Morals a.k.a Jenny Lind] " and Mordant Hall, " [ The Swedish Nightingale] ," "New York Times", November 8, 1930.] Later that same year she starred with the Metropolitan Opera singer Lawrence Tibbett in the first screen version of Sigmund Romberg's operetta "The New Moon", also produced by MGM.

After a hiatus of several years, Moore returned to Hollywood under contract to Columbia Pictures, for whom she made six films. In the 1934 film "One Night of Love", her first film for Columbia, she portrayed a small-town girl who aspires to sing opera. For that role she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1935. She played similar roles in several other films. A memorable highlight of "When You're in Love" (1937) was a comic scene in which Moore donned flannel shirt and trousers and joined a 5-man band for a flamboyant rendition of Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher," complete with gestures and "hi-de-ho's", but with the lyrics slightly altered to conform with Hollywood sensibilities. [Frank S. Nugent, " [ 'When You're in Love' Opens at the Music Hall] ," "New York Times", February 19, 1937.] Also, she performed the popular "Madama Butterfly" duet "Vogliatemi Bene" with American tenor Frank Forest in the 1937 film "I'll Take Romance".

The last film that Moore made was "Louise" (1938), an abridged version of Gustave Charpentier's opera of the same name, with spoken dialog in place of some of the original opera's music. The composer participated in the production, authorizing the cuts and changes to the libretto, coaching Moore, and advising director Abel Gance. This production also featured two renowned French singers: dramatic tenor Georges Thill and basse cantante André Pernet. [See Bel Canto Society, [ "Louise" (DVD & VHS)] for a collection of anecdotes, reviews, and other information about the film version of Louise.]


She was widely criticized in December 1938 when she curtsied to Wallis, The Duchess of Windsor, in Cannes. Upon her return to the United States after six months and ten days in Europe ("to save money in income tax"), Moore defended her curtsy, saying:

She would have been a royal duchess long ago if she had not been an American. After all, she gave happiness and the courage of his convictions to one man, which is more than most women can do. She deserves a curtsy for that alone. [Time, " [,9171,771398,00.html People] ," January 16, 1939.]


In 1935 Moore received the gold medal award of the Society of Arts and Sciences for "conspicuous achievement in raising the standard of cinema entertainment." In 1936 the king of Denmark awarded her his country's medal of 'Ingenito et Arti.' In 1937, she was commissioned as a colonel (an honorary position) on the staff of the governor of Tennessee, and was also made a life member of the Tennessee State Society of Washington, D.C. She was decorated as a chevalier of the French Légion d'honneur in 1939.

Personal life

Moore married Valentín Parera, a Spanish movie actor, in Cannes, France, on July 15, 1931. They had no children. During the 1930s they maintained homes in Hollywood, Cannes, and Connecticut.

Moore published an autobiography, "You're Only Human Once", in 1944.


Grace Moore died in a plane crash near the Copenhagen, Denmark airport on January 26, 1947, at the age of 48. Among the other plane crash victims was Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden, who was at the time second in line to the Swedish throne and who was the father of the present King of Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustaf. She is buried in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Moore's life story was made into a movie, "So This is Love", in 1953, starring North Carolina-born singer Kathryn Grayson. A collection of her papers is housed at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.


*"A Lady's Morals" (1930; later released under the title "Jenny Lind" in the United Kingdom and in a French-language version)
*"The New Moon" (1930)
*"One Night of Love" (1934)
*"Love Me Forever" (1935)
*"The King Steps Out" (1936)
*"When You're in Love" (1937)
*"I'll Take Romance" (1937)
*"Louise" (1939)


* Binnicker, Charles M. [ "Grace Moore" entry in "Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture"]
* Kenrick, John. [ Who's Who in Musicals]
* New World Records, [ "Follies, Scandals & Other Diversions: From Ziegfeld to the Shuberts", New World NW 215, liner notes]
* New World Records, [ "The Vintage Irving Berlin", New World NW 238, liner notes]
* Siler, James Hayden. [ "The History of Jellico"] . Unpublished manuscript, 1938.

Further reading

* Farrar, Rowena Rutherford. "Grace Moore and Her Many Worlds". New York: Cornwall Books, 1982. ISBN 0-8453-4723-3
* James, Janet Wilson. "Moore, Grace." In: "Notable American Women." Vol. III. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971.
* Moore, Grace. "You're Only Human Once". 1977 (c. 1944). ISBN 0-405-09698-4
* Rasponi, Lanfranco. "The Last Prima Donnas". Alfred A Knopf, 1982. ISBN 0-394-52153-6
* Parish, James Robert, and Michael R. Pitts. "Hollywood Songsters." New York: Garland Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0-415-94334-5

External links

* []
*imdb name|id=0601254|name=Grace Moore
*YouTube|L_YeGgDsd7s|Grace Moore: "Depuis le jour" (Louise) Grace Moore sings "Depuis Le Jour" in this scene from her 1938 film "Louise".
* [ YouTube - Grace Moore - Si. Mi chiamano Mimi - 1939 - From 78 RPM] Grace Moore sings Giacomo Puccini's "Si, Mi chiamano Mimi" from "La Boheme".
* [ Grace Moore Concert Gown] Biography and image of a concert gown that belonged to Moore, from Frank H. McClung Museum collection.
* [ The Grace Moore Papers] Describes the collection of her papers at the University of Tennessee Libraries.
* [ The Grace Moore Glove Gallery] A collection of images of Moore, including movie stills and advertisements.

NAME= Moore, Grace
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Moore, Mary Willie Grace
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Opera singer, actress
DATE OF BIRTH=December 5, 1898
PLACE OF BIRTH=Del Rio, Tennessee
DATE OF DEATH=January 26, 1947
PLACE OF DEATH=near Copenhagen, Denmark

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