Waking Kieron Moore

Dr. Blood one sheetTo the mind of a 10 year-old boy, there may be no more perfect film title than Dr. Blood’s Coffin (1961). It has everything. OK, there wasn’t all that much blood and no coffin to speak of but there was a zombie and a dilly of a zombie too—moldy, shuffling, and mad as Hell. The star of Dr. Blood’s Coffin was Kieron Moore, a strapping Irish actor I had also seen in Day of the Triffids (1962), as a lighthouse keeper fighting off the title bogies with lashings of sea water. There was something rock-like about Kieron Moore, a rigidity that made him distinctive, unavoidable. You knew him when you saw him. That’s what made Dr. Blood’s Coffin such a good movie: the guy looked like a standard, broad-shouldered, lantern-jawed varsity hero. He was clean-cut, well-spoken, athletic… and a sick bastard at heart,

reanimating the corpse of his girlfriend’s late husband. In a word… wow!

Man About the HouseBorn Ciaran O Annrachain at Skibbereen in County Cork on October 5 1924, Kieron Moore was the son of an Irish Nationalist writer who forbade the speaking of English in the home. The family relocated to Dublin, where Moore was educated at a Christian-run Irish language school and where he later studied medicine at University College. At the Little Peacock Theater, he appeared in Gaelic language plays and was invited to join the prestigious Abbey Theater. In London, he honed his craft with more stage work. As Kieron O’Hanrahan, he made his film debut playing an IRA gunman in love with his adopted sister in The Voice Within (1945) but changed his name at the behest of producer Alexander Korda. Signed with London Films, Moore flew to Naples to play a handsome but untrustworthy Italian concierge A Man About the House (1947), singing and playing guitar for the enjoyment of a pair of English spinsters. In Mine Own Executioner (1947), he was an RAF headcase and a year later was Count Vronsky to Vivien Leigh’s Anna Karenina (1948).

They Robbed the Bank of EnglandThrough the 1950s, Moore made the rounds, playing tall, dark and handsome types of strong or compromised virtue in David and Bathsheba (1951) with Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward, in the foreign legion adventure Ten Tall Men (1951) with Burt Lancaster and as a blind deaf-mute murder suspect in The Green Scarf (1954). Moore turned up in a couple of pre-horror Hammer productions – Mantrap (1951) with Paul Henreid and Lois Maxwell and The Steel Bayonet (1957) with Leo Genn. He got a rare chance to play an Irishman in Disney’s charming Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1957) but was cast most often in crime films: as a Russian anarchist in the fact-based The Siege of Sidney Street (1960), as one of Aldo Ray's gang in They Robbed the Bank of England (1960) and as a closeted homosexual blackmailed into participating in a bank robbery in The League of Gentlemen (1960).

Triffids lobby

I didn’t know any of this when I first clapped eyes on Kieron Moore. For years, I only knew him from Dr. Blood’s Coffin and Day of the Triffids and for all I know now those movies may have killed his career. He did get one more great (in my 10 year-old estimation) role, as the sweaty hero of Crack in the World (1965), with Dana Andrews and his Triffids costar Janette Scott. Moore continued another ten years in films and on television, but his dark complexion doomed him to playing Arabs (Arabesque), American Indians, (Custer of the West) Greeks and Frenchmen. He eventually moved to France, where he created a weekly series for himself, Ryan International. The show ran for less than a season in the fall of 1970 but provided paychecques to a lot of British actors Moore likely knew from his salad days.

Kieron Moore retired from acting in the 1970s and got involved with the charity CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development), associate editing the church newspaper The Universe, visiting hospitals and traveling to Third World countries to make documentaries on the subject of poverty for Irish television.

Through his career, Moore got stuck with the annoying footnote that he never fulfilled the big studios’ expectations for him and I say hang all that. Kieron Moore lived and loved and loved his life. He seems to have done whatever he wanted and he devoted a good deal of his life to helping others. With wife (and Mine Own Executioner costar) Barbara White, he fathered four children. He died in France on July 15, 2007, at age 82.

Slán leat, Ciaran O Annrachain. Go dté tú slán.

8 Responses Waking Kieron Moore
Posted By Jeff : July 28, 2007 11:24 pm

My first impression of him was in DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE where he was the town bully and he was formidable enough in appearance to make you worry a little bit for Sean Connery in their big screen brawl at the end. But I particularly like him in the heist films, The Day They Robbed the Bank of England and The League of Gentlemen.

Posted By Jeff : July 28, 2007 11:24 pm

My first impression of him was in DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE where he was the town bully and he was formidable enough in appearance to make you worry a little bit for Sean Connery in their big screen brawl at the end. But I particularly like him in the heist films, The Day They Robbed the Bank of England and The League of Gentlemen.

Posted By Brockmeyer’s Girl : July 28, 2007 11:56 pm

I also first knew him in "Darby O'Gill…"  It wasn't until I saw "Crack in the World" (which I was watching for Dana Andrews) that I thought, hey, who is this other guy?  He's awfully familiar….  I'd like to check out some of those movies you mention.

Posted By Brockmeyer’s Girl : July 28, 2007 11:56 pm

I also first knew him in "Darby O'Gill…"  It wasn't until I saw "Crack in the World" (which I was watching for Dana Andrews) that I thought, hey, who is this other guy?  He's awfully familiar….  I'd like to check out some of those movies you mention.

Posted By Ben Martin : July 30, 2007 12:40 pm

I owned an original Dr. Blood's Coffin lobby card YEARS before i ever got a chance to see the actual movie.  What a treat it was.  Better than even the lobby card suggested.  Kieron Moore's role was my favorite thing about it.  But I love his role in Day of the Triffids and always wanted to know more about the characters of he and his wife, played by the amazingly attractive Janette Scott.  Though he groused around effectively in the lighthouse, it was hard to feel sorry for him stuck in that great secluded spot with Ms. Scott for weeks on end.    I so appreciate the bio you provided and am glad to know more about a favorite of mine.  Thanks. 

Posted By Ben Martin : July 30, 2007 12:40 pm

I owned an original Dr. Blood's Coffin lobby card YEARS before i ever got a chance to see the actual movie.  What a treat it was.  Better than even the lobby card suggested.  Kieron Moore's role was my favorite thing about it.  But I love his role in Day of the Triffids and always wanted to know more about the characters of he and his wife, played by the amazingly attractive Janette Scott.  Though he groused around effectively in the lighthouse, it was hard to feel sorry for him stuck in that great secluded spot with Ms. Scott for weeks on end.    I so appreciate the bio you provided and am glad to know more about a favorite of mine.  Thanks. 

Posted By Marie-Louise O’Hanrahan : August 26, 2007 11:10 am

Thanks for writing our favourite obituary!

Posted By Marie-Louise O’Hanrahan : August 26, 2007 11:10 am

Thanks for writing our favourite obituary!

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