Dominic Florentino: Who is Peggy Moran?
Peggy Moran: That's what I wonder. Who is she really? I haven't the vaguest idea. (Laughs)
What was your childhood like?
My mother and father were divorced when I was five. My mother wanted to come out here because she used to dance with the Ruth
Saint Dennis dancers and she always loved California. Anyway, my mother and her girlfriend wanted to have their fortune told.
When you don't know what life is about women always want their fortunes told. At that time there was a physic, or fortune-teller,
in Hollywood called Darios. He became famous because he had predicted Rudolf Valentino's death. So they said "Wouldn't
it be fun if we could go and have him tell our fortunes?" So we went clear downtown, found his office, went in and they
tried to get an appointment with him and they couldn't. He was all booked up and too popular by that time so they went out
of his office and we were sitting in the hallway figuring out where to go. Weather to go right home or what, and suddenly
Darios himself came out of his office and started to walk down the hall and as he came to as far as we were he suddenly came
over, put his hand under my chin and said, "Ah, an actress." Well, as I say I don't believe, really, in fortune
telling or anything like that but I was a child and, being a child, I didn't know weather he was supposed to be predicting
my future or what. Except that as a child I believed him. I thought he was stating a fact. So from that time on I thought
I was going to grow up and be an actress.
Do you believe in destiny?
Well, I think we make our own destiny by our beliefs. Change your attitude, your consciousness, because that's what you are
going to attract. Did you like horror films when you were young? I loved King Kong with Fay Wray. That was one
of my favorite pictures. I admired Fay. I thought Fay Wray was so beautiful. I remember later I went to a party and she was
there and I sat at her feet and said, 'You were my favorite actress', and I told her how much I worshiped her.
In 1940 Universal Pictures, eager to continue the success of their new cycle of horror films, dusted
off one of it's dustiest and most famous characters, The Mummy. THE MUMMY'S HAND was not a sequel to the 1932 classic
starring Boris Karloff as Imhotep, but the beginning of the saga of Kharis, the living mummy who guarded the tomb of his beloved
Princess Anonka. To many monster fans, THE MUMMY'S HAND remains the best of the four Kharis films, in part because
of the appealing cast which included Peggy Moran as the lovely and feisty Marta. When Kharis chokes the life out of Cecil
Kellaway then turns those deadly black eyes toward Peggy, he seems momentarily mesmerized by the beauty before him. Speaking
for monster kids everywhere, I feel it's safe to say, "Kharis, we know how you feel." Born in Clinton, Iowa, Peggy Moran
started life surrounded by art and philosophy. Her father was a calendar artist and her mother was a professional dancer.
When Peggy was very young her family moved to Hollywood, setting the stage for her eventual acting career. She appeared in
over 30 films including another Universal favorite, HORROR ISLAND, before giving up acting for motherhood. I had
the pleasure of speaking with Peggy recently in Burbank, California where she was signing copies of a new art print by artist
Robert Aragon featuring her in her most popular role. I spoke candidly with her about art, philosophy, her childhood and of
course THE MUMMY'S HAND. After spending time with the very gracious Miss Moran I couldn't help being reminded of
her familiar line, "Do you mind if I say I think you're a swell person?"
After Tom Tyler got plastered, Peggy helped dry him out for his role as Kharis.
And weren't you also a fan of Fredric March? He was amazing in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Oh, I adored him. When I was little I had every conceivable size picture of him on my walls. When I would see his pictures
I was right in the story with him. When he suffered, I suffered. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde -- I even suffered with
him in that even though he turned into this monster. I later was walking down the street at Universal and I hear somebody
calling behind me, "Hey! Hey!" and I turn around and there was Fredric March standing in his dressing room up there. I looked
to see who he was yelling at and he said, "I mean you, you." Well, of course they had all told him that I was there and how
I felt about him.
Charles Laughton I knew very well. We were very great friends. In fact we were his first audience when he did readings. He
used to sit down, we had this low coffee table, and he would read everything to us from Alice in Wonderland to Shakespeare,
everything. He made everything seem so charming. Later he did this foursome with Tyrone Power, Agnes Moorehead; there were
four of them that went traveling all over the country doing readings like this. We were his first audience, I remember that.
He was married to Elsa Lanchester.
What kind of person was Charles Laughton?
He was funny. When he had an audience, or a part to do, he was very outgoing. But, in person, when he didn't have a part to
act he was kind of shy and a little funny, different acting. Not with us personally though.
What about Elsa?
Elsa was very nice, very funny.
Now, to your favorite picture: THE MUMMY'S HAND.
Says who? (Laughing) That was the only picture I ever made that literally came back to haunt me. Because it was the one, when
television became so popular, that they showed. And they're still showing it all over the world, you know that? I get recent
letters from Holland, Germany, from all over where they must have just been running it because I always recognize that they
come from the same city at the same time.
Do you remember when they first said to you that you were going to be in this picture, THE MUMMY'S HAND?
No, I don't remember anything about it. I only knew I was making it. I do remember that I didn't know if I was going to scream
or not because I had never practiced a scream because the whole neighborhood would have descended upon me, you know. So I
didn't know if I could scream or not. Also, in The Mummy's Hand I never met the actor without his makeup on. I didn't
even know his name. They couldn't even introduce me because he couldn't talk. So we just did scenes together and I never knew
who he was.
You never saw him outside the makeup?
Never saw him. I heard later he was an actor by the name of Tom Tyler. I wouldn't even know him if I saw a picture of him.
I don't know if he's still alive.
[editor's note- Tom Tyler died in 1954.]
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