Childhood & Early Life
Joanna Moore was born Dorothy Joanne Cook, on November 10, 1934, in Parrott, Georgia, US, to Dorothy Martha (née English) and Henry Anderson Cook III. She was the elder of their two daughters.
She lost her mother and younger sister in a fatal car accident in 1941, while her father succumbed to injuries from the accident a year later. Orphaned as a child, Moore was initially raised by her grandmother. However, after her grandmother became incapacitated, Moore was adopted by an affluent family. Her name was changed from “Dorothy” to “Joanna.”
In 1951, while still in her teens, she married Willis Moore and also divorced soon. Following her divorce, she studied at the ‘Agnes Scott College’ in Decatur, Georgia. There, she won a beauty contest that led her to Hollywood. She began her acting career after being spotted by a producer from ‘Universal Studios’ at a cocktail party.
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Moore made her TV debut as ‘Stephanie’ in an episode of the anthology series ‘Lux Video Theatre,’ titled ‘Jezebel.’ A year later, she bagged the starring role of ‘Penny Spencer’ in the ‘CinemaScope’ film noir project ‘Appointment with a Shadow,’ thus marking her debut on the big screen.
She then appeared in single-episode roles in series such as ‘Goodyear Theater’ (1957), ‘Harbormaster’ (1957), ‘Bachelor Father’ (1958), and ‘The Rifleman’ (1959). During the late 1950s, she guest-starred in series such as ‘Perry Mason’ (playing the title role in a single episode), ‘Riverboat,’ ‘The Real McCoys,’ and ‘The Rough Riders.’
She also appeared in many films before the turn of the decade. She was cast as ‘Marcia Linnekar’ in the Orson Welles-starrer 1958 American film noir project ‘Touch of Evil.’ She also appeared as ‘Madeline Howard’ in the 1958 American black-and-white science-fiction/horror film ‘Monster on the Campus.’ She appeared as ‘Little Brandy’ in the 1958 American ‘Eastmancolor’ Western film ‘Ride a Crooked Trail.’
The 1950s and the 1960s saw her appearing in TV series such as ‘Gunsmoke,’ ‘The Rifleman,’ ‘The F.B.I.,’ ‘The Fugitive,’ and ‘Route 66.’ She was offered a contract by popular English film director and producer Alfred Hitchcock. She made a number of appearances in his anthology series ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents.’ The contract was, however, dissolved later.
She was at the peak of her career in the 1960s. During that time, she guest-starred in many notable TV series, such as ‘Empire,’ ‘77 Sunset Strip,’ ‘The Untouchables,’ ‘The Rebel,’ ‘The Iron Horse,’ ‘Cowboy in Africa,’ ‘Daniel Boone,’ and ‘My Three Sons.’
One of her most notable roles was that of ‘Peggy "Peg" McMillan,’ ‘Sheriff Taylor's love interest, in four episodes of the ‘CBS’ sitcom ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ from 1962 to 1963.
The 1962-released American drama film ‘Walk on the Wild Side,’ starring Laurence Harvey, Jane Fonda, and Capucine, featured Moore as ‘Miss Precious.’ The same year, she appeared in the musical ‘Follow That Dream,’ starring Elvis Presley.
In 1964, she appeared in the ‘Emmy Award’-winning American anthology series ‘Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre.’
The 1966 American Western film ‘Nevada Smith,’ starring Steve McQueen, featured Moore in the uncredited role of ‘Angie Coe,’ the widow of ‘Jesse Coe.’ Some of her other notable films of the 1960s were ‘Son of Flubber’ (1963), ‘The Man from Galveston’ (1963), ‘Countdown’ (1968), and ‘Never a Dull Moment’ (1968).
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She continued making single-episode appearances on TV during the 1970s, in series such as ‘The Name of the Game’ (1970), ‘The Waltons’ (1974), and ‘Kung Fu’ (1975). She also guest-starred in series such as ‘Petrocelli,’ ‘McCloud,’ ‘The Governor & J.J.,’ and ‘Nanny and the Professor.’ She starred as ‘Miriam Wages’ in the American action film ‘J.C.,’ which released on April 1, 1972.
Moore played ‘Mrs. Channing’ in the commercially successful American ‘Technicolor’ film ‘The Hindenburg,’ which released on December 25, 1975. Based on the disaster of the German airship ‘Hindenburg,’ the film starred George C Scott, Anne Bancroft, and William Atherton.
Her fame started to dwindle by the late 1970s, due to personal issues. During the 1980s, she featured in a couple of projects, namely, the American made-for-TV comedy–drama film ‘Scout's Honor’ and the 1986 Australian action–thriller film ‘Run Chrissie Run!’
Family & Personal Life
Moore married American actor Don Oreck on February 29, 1956. They divorced in 1957.
In 1962, Moore underwent a surgery to treat her hearing loss caused due to otosclerosis.
While at the peak of her career, the blonde beauty got married for the third time, to American actor and former boxer Ryan O'Neal, on April 3, 1963. They had two children, Tatum O'Neal, born in 1963, and Griffin O'Neal, born in 1964. Both grew up to become actors.
Moore and O'Neal, however, separated in early 1966. This took a toll on the diva. Although she continued acting, she sank into depression and took to drugs and alcohol. Gradually, she turned into an addict. This affected both her personal and professional lives.
Her divorce from O'Neal was finalized on February 27, 1967. Moore took psychiatric treatment from ‘Camarillo State Hospital’ in 1970. She faced arrest for drunk driving in 1971, after she fought with O'Neal while visiting the latter’s Malibu home with their children. Following the arrest, she lost custody of her children.
Moore then married again, this time with roofing contractor Gary L Reeves, on February 13, 1975. This marriage, too, ended in a divorce in 1977.
Her daughter Tatum eventually became an actor and won an ‘Academy Award’ at just 10 years of age. She was one of the highest-paid child stars of her time. She supported Moore financially from the late 1970s. Although Moore underwent treatment, she could never recover fully and faced five more arrests for driving under the influence in the 1980s.
Moore was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1996 and succumbed to the disease on November 22 the following year, with Tatum by her side. Initially, Moore was interred at the ‘Hillside Memorial Park’ in Redlands, California. Later, her remains were moved to the ‘Oak Grove Cemetery’ in Americus, Georgia, by her family.
‘Our Town,’ a roman à clef on Moore, was published in 2015. It was written by Kevin McEnroe, Moore’s grandson and Tatum’s son with John McEnroe.