Monday 17 June 2019

'Kardashians of their day' - from Meath to Hollywood stardom

Owen Moore with Greta Garbo in a scene from ‘As You Desire Me’ Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images
Owen Moore with Greta Garbo in a scene from ‘As You Desire Me’ Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images
Matt Moore with Sally Eilers in a scene from the movie ‘Dry Martini’ Photo: Donaldson Collection/Getty Images
Tom Moore. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Louise Walsh

As children, the Moore brothers arrived penniless in Ellis Island in 1886, a world away from their Meath village.

But 20 years later, in a remarkable rags to riches story, Owen, Matt and Tom Moore had starred in more than 500 movies, with each of them later getting their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Calls have been made to formally recognise the forgotten achievements of the three Irish brothers from Fordstown village, Co Meath.

The siblings were household names across the US in the 1920s, with Matt's two cats also having stars in the animal section of the walk of fame.

Their fame reached new heights when Owen married the famous silent screen actress Mary Pickford in 1911, before she divorced him to marry Douglas Fairbanks days later. Their other brother Joe also starred in more than 40 films, and their sister Mary appeared in 13 productions.

A small plaque was erected in their native village in 2005 to recognise their achievements, but now Fordstown wants to do something more.

Award-winning historian Turtle Bunbury has lent his support to the campaign.

"The Moores of Fordstown were extremely well-known across the USA back in the Roaring Twenties. They were right up there with the Hollywood elite in the Golden Age, starring alongside people like Mae West and Cary Grant and indeed, Mary Pickford, or 'the lady with the curls' as she was known, was as famous as any of the Kardashians today.

"It's really high time Meath capitalised on this connection and laid on something to keep their memory alive - an exhibition, a festival, a statue or even a walk of fame of its own," he said.

"Nowhere else would three brothers who were Hollywood stars go unrecognised. If three Irish brothers were on Irish TV nowadays, they'd be huge, never mind on the international stage," said local bar owner Stephanie Bray.

"All the older generations who knew about the Moore brothers have all but died and most people nowadays have never heard of them. The community here got funding for a plaque for the village in 2005 but it would be nice to remember them nationally."

Local Fianna Fáil TD Shane Cassells said they should be remembered.

"We can't let this amazing story die. I would be asking the council to even place a star in their honour at the entrance to the Solstice Arts Centre in Navan as a starting point and go from there. Who knows, in years to come there could even be a film about the lives of the Moore brothers."

The brothers and sister Mary were brought to the US by their parents John and Rosanna in 1896 and settled in Ohio before teenagers Tom and Owen ran away to join a travelling theatre company.

"This is a remarkable story with a most interesting local connection and the council will certainly look at how they can be appropriately commemorated," said a spokesperson for Meath County Council.

Irish Independent

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