Obituary: Micky Moore / Director and early Hollywood actor
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Micky Moore, who began acting in Hollywood as a toddler and would contribute to more than 200 movies over nine decades as an actor and director, died March 4 at his longtime home in Malibu, Calif., of congestive heart failure, his family announced. He was 98.
Mr. Moore experienced so much Hollywood history firsthand that he was moved to preserve it in a memoir published when he was 95. He called it "My Magic Carpet of Films."
When he finally retired from the business, in his late 80s, he was regarded as a leading second-unit director for his work on such films as "Patton," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and the first three "Indiana Jones" movies.
Over three decades, he made nearly 40 films as a second-unit director shooting action and background footage while the primary director was engaged elsewhere.
When filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg needed a second-unit director for "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981), Mr. Moore was their first choice, and a perfect one, Mr. Lucas later recalled.
"Micky Moore was exceptional. ... He was confident behind the camera and knew when to speak up to make things better," Mr. Lucas wrote in a foreword to Mr. Moore's 2009 book.
After Mr. Moore suggested that the truck-chase scene he would direct in "Raiders" could be improved by moving it from an empty desert to narrow tree-lined streets to give it context, the change was made. The results, Mr. Lucas wrote of the now-iconic scene, "speak for themselves."
He was born Dennis Michael Sheffield in October 1914 in Vancouver, British Columbia, one of four children of Thomas Sheffield, a shipbuilder from Britain, and Norah Moore, an actress from Dublin.
After his family arrived in Santa Barbara, Calif., by boat in 1915, they lived near a branch of the American Film Manufacturing Co., known as the Flying "A" Studio. When a neighbor suggested that brother Patrick, then almost 4, audition there, 18-month-old Micky -- with his mop of curls and expressive eyes -- was soon employed as well.
To further their careers, the family moved to Los Angeles in 1916, and Micky Moore was making $200 a week in 1920. His mother wanted the boys to use her last name professionally.
Patrick appeared in dozens of silent pictures, including the 1923 version of "The Ten Commandments," and later worked at Paramount Studios in music and sound editing. He died at 91 in 2004.
Young Micky soon joined the new Lasky studio, known as the Famous Players-Lasky Corp., where he spent much of his childhood, working with such directors as the legendary Cecil B. DeMille. Mr. Moore often played the son in the dozens of silent films he made until the late 1920s.
The difficulty of moving from child actor to more mature roles was compounded by the Great Depression, which hit his family hard just as silent movies were going out of vogue. At 15, he appeared in his final film.
He worked on fishing boats off Santa Monica but didn't like it much. Missing the movie business and needing to support his family, he made an appointment to see the man he always called "Mr. DeMille" and surprised him by asking to work in the property department. Late in life, Mr. Moore pointed to DeMille's saying "yes" as the happiest day of his life because it set up the rest of his career.
In the late 1940s, Mr. Moore segued to the role of assistant director at Paramount Studios and also worked with DeMille in that capacity, including on his final film, "Ten Commandments" (1956).
First Published March 19, 2013 12:00 am