Actress Agnes Moorehead on God’s Word: ‘I Need this Book Every Day of My Life’
By Movieguide® Staff
Note: This story is part of our Faith in Hollywood series. For similar stories, click here.
Actress Agnes Moorehead, known for her work in TV, radio and Hollywood, relied on daily reading of God’s word.
The BEWITCHED actress’ career spanned over four decades and included a variety of different entertainment mediums. However, the one constant for Moorehead was her love for the Bible.
Moorehead revealed that her mother encouraged her to read the Bible even when she moved out of the house.
“I was asleep in my home in Beverly Hills, California, the other night when the telephone rang. It was my mother, in Wisconsin. ‘Who,’ she inquired, ‘was Moses’ mother?’ For the moment I’d forgotten the name ‘Jochebed’ but believe me I never will again,” the CITIZEN KANE actress wrote in 1965. “Mother often checks up on me by phone this way, just to make sure I’m not neglecting my Bible.
“She needn’t worry,” she continued. “I may forget a Biblical name occasionally but I’ll never forget that I need this Book every day of my life. For me, as for my parents before me, the Bible is as current as today’s newspaper.”
Moorehead also noted that her father, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, also encouraged her to take her faith seriously.
“When I was small, I loved the story of the Israelites in the desert,” Moorehead said. “My father was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and from the pulpit he would make very real the cloud by day, the fire by night, and the manna that God sent from heaven.
“How I tested these passages during my own desert days in New York City! I’d gone there with the goal of every young actor: to make my way in the theater. To make my money last, I ate almost nothing: hot water for breakfast, a roll for lunch, rice for dinner,” she added. “It was hungry work, making the rounds of casting agents, mile after mile on the unyielding sidewalk, and I used to wonder fervently just how God was going to provide manna in this man-made wilderness.”
Soon Moorehead’s life savings became a dime, and half of that had to go to a telephone call to her agent. However, Moorehead revealed that God was watching over her in her lowest moments.
“Half my fortune was in that phone, and nothing happened—the coin was not even returned to me! I jiggled the hook. I pounded the box, but it held tight to the coin that would have bought me a big white roll—and a pat of butter on the plate beside it,” Moorehead said. “As always when I let myself think about food, a kind of desperation seized me. I thrust two fingers into the coin return, clawing the cold metal sides of the tube. They closed on a piece of paper.”
“Though I didn’t know it then, I had stumbled onto a familiar racket of those days. Pay phones were built in such a way that a piece of paper inserted from the bottom would trap the money in the chute,” she continued. “All I knew was that as I drew out the paper, a little river of money streamed into my lap: dimes and quarters as well as nickels. In all, when I had finished my incredulous count, I had $4.25.
“I knew, of course, that the money belonged to the phone company—and I paid it back with interest as soon as I could. But I never doubted, also, that this money was manna direct from heaven. The oatmeal and rice it bought lasted until I got my first part.”
Through Moorehead’s faithful reading of God’s word, she said she did not hesitate to recognize His provision for her throughout life.
“Does God drop manna through phone boxes? Of course. Anyone who spends much time with the Bible recognizes humor as one of the surest signs of His presence. And the Bible-reader also comes to accept this loving involvement with the details of our lives as a fact about Almighty God,” Moorehead said. “The non-Bible-oriented mind reels before a fact like this. That the Force which flung out the universe should also stoop to feed sparrows is too much for our unaided intelligences, and so we devise descriptions of the universe other than the Biblical one, mechanical and naturalistic theories that better fit our own man-sized understanding.”
Moorehead recalled to her mind what her father once taught about human faith.
“He would simply ask one question: ‘What interest does it pay?’ The thing that you believe in, he used to say, is the greatest single investment you can ever make. Before you invest, he would tell me, check on the kind of return you can expect,” Moorehead said. “Father believed in the Bible, in every word between its covers, and for him the return was joy, peace, victory, a serene and unassailable love of God and men.”
“The Bible is the first thing I read every morning of my life, and the last thing at night. Most mornings now I have to leave the house at 5:30 for a six o’clock call at the TV studio. This means that my Bible reading time comes at 4:45 a.m., but I would no more skip it than I would skip dressing,” Moorehead said. “Again at night, when I’ve read the next day’s script, I open the Bible. There I find rest for my weariness, strength for the job ahead, a pillar of fire to guide me through the night.”