Born John Richard Moore, Jr., “Dickie” made his silver screen debut at eleven months old when he portrayed the infant Francois Villon (fifteenth-century poet and scoundrel) in the silent film The Beloved Rogue (1927). Cast for his resemblance to the actor John Barrymore (who portrayed the adult Villon), Moore stole the scene—and women’s hearts—when he gazed delightedly into the face of his adoring screen mother. His striking features and quiet countenance made him a star in high demand during Hollywood’s transition from silent film to “talkies.” By the time Hal Roach cast him to play six-year-old Dickie in eight Our Gang comedy shorts (1932-1933), Moore was a veteran actor with more than twenty films to his credit. He continued to act through adolescence and early adulthood, appearing in more than one hundred films, most famously perhaps as the young man who gave Shirley Temple her first on-screen, romantic kiss in the teen-flick Miss Annie Rooney (1942).
Like many entertainers, Moore answered the nation’s World War II call to duty. During the war, he honed his writing as a correspondent for the Army’s Stars and Stripes newspaper. After the war he went to college on the G.I. Bill and earned a degree in journalism. In 1966, Moore drew on both his writing talent and acting experience when he established his public relations firm Dick Moore and Associates in New York City. His firm’s clients included the Actor’s Equity Association, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), and various other entertainment organizations. In 1997 Moore was awarded the prestigious George Heller Memorial Award for outstanding service to the acting profession.
Dick Moore passed away just days before his ninetieth birthday on September 7, 2015.
The Dick Moore Collection at the American Heritage Center primarily contains material from Moore’s 1984 book, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (but don’t have sex or take the car), a book about the common experiences of his fellow veteran child actors. This material consists primarily of interview transcripts and audiocassette recordings, publicity stills, a manuscript proposal, and chapter drafts. The collection also contains scrapbook clippings of Moore’s young acting career, audiocassette and reel-to-reel recordings of various performances by other actors, and a 16 mm copy of The Boy and the Eagle (1949), an Oscar-nominated film produced and narrated by Moore.
Dick Moore met entertainer Jane Powell in 1981 while researching his book on child actors. They married in 1988 and remained so until his recent death. The American Heritage Center also holds the Jane Powell Collection.
—Jennifer Robin Terry, University of California, Berkeley