Cleouna Moore (October 31, 1929 – October 25, 1973) was an American actress, usually featured in the role of a blonde bombshell in Hollywood films of the 1950s, including seven films with Hugo Haas. She also became a well-known pin-up girl.
Although she never obtained true film stardom, Moore has become a cult fan favorite, with several of her films being considered cult classics.
Cleouna Moore was born in Galvez, Louisiana, and raised in nearby Gonzales. Her father ran a grocery store. She was educated in Gonzales public schools and took a secretarial course at Pope’s Commercial College in Baton Rouge.
At age 15, she married Palmer Long, the youngest child of Huey Long, the former governor of Louisiana who was assassinated five years earlier while a Senator for Louisiana, but the marriage ended in six weeks. She moved with her family to California in 1945, determined to enter motion pictures.
Moore was named Miss Van Nuys for 1947-1948.
She made her film debut in 1948 in Embraceable You. She also played the leading lady in the film serial Congo Bill and worked for Warner Brothers briefly in 1950. She worked for RKO Radio Pictures from 1950 to 1952, making such films as Hunt the Man Down and Gambling House.
She signed with Columbia Pictures in 1952. The studio had plans to mold Moore as its next film star, hoping she would bring Columbia the success that 20th Century-Fox was having with Marilyn Monroe. In order to compete with Monroe, Moore had to bleach her hair platinum blonde. Columbia dubbed her “The Next Big Thing” and “The Blonde Rita Hayworth”. She first gained attention as a doomed gun moll in Nicholas Ray’s film noir On Dangerous Ground in 1952.
Moore began starring in films in 1952. In 1953, she made one of her most remembered movies, One Girl’s Confession, opposite Hugo Haas, who directed and appeared with her in several other films. She co-starred in Thy Neighbor’s Wife (1953) and Bait (1954), both directed by Haas, the latter co-starring John Agar.
In 1954, she starred in The Other Woman, playing a B-movie bit player who strikes at her movie director for revenge when he declines the offer for her to be in his picture. During 1954, Moore’s career began to fade in the eyes of Columbia. The studio signed newcomer Kim Novak to a contract and started molding Novak as its new star on the lot and started casting Moore in forgettable B-movies.
Upon completing a supporting role in Women’s Prison (1955), Moore signed a brief deal with Universal Pictures to play a suicidal prostitute in the low-budget thriller Hold Back Tomorrow (1955), again opposite John Agar.
In 1956, she starred as a predatory career girl in Over-Exposed, co-starring Richard Crenna. The following year, Moore made her final film appearance in Hit and Run (1957). After the release of the film, Moore retired from acting.
During this period of 1950s Hollywood, Moore was one of several buxom blondes to achieve notability following Marilyn Monroe’s major breakthrough; the others included Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren, Diana Dors, Sheree North, Anita Ekberg, Barbara Lang, Barbara Nichols, Joi Lansing, Carol Ohmart, Pat Sheehan, and Greta Thyssen. In the mid 1950s, Columbia considered starring Moore in a film biography of Jean Harlow, but the project did not come to pass.
Despite never achieving true film stardom, Moore made headlines with several publicity stunts, notably a five-minute kiss on live Chicago television in 1954 and her tongue-in-cheek pledge to one day run for governor of Louisiana, having been very briefly married in 1944 to Palmer Long, the youngest son of Louisiana governor Huey Long.
Moore began attracting a cult following in the 1980s with airings of her bad-girl movies on television, particularly among collectors of the posters and memorabilia issued for her films.
In the 1990s, she was dubbed by film historians as the “Queen of the B-Movie Bad Girls” owing to her rising popularity with buffs of the film noir genre. Sony Pictures released three Moore titles—Over-Exposed, One Girl’s Confession, and Women’s Prison—in a DVD set entitled Bad Girls of Film Noir Volume II. The set also included as a bonus feature a 1954 television drama starring Moore.
Moore found success as a businesswoman in real estate after her screen career ended.
After her six-week marriage, at age 15, to Palmer Long, Moore remained single through the 1940s and 1950s. In 1961, Moore married multi-millionaire real estate developer Herbert Heftler, and lived on an estate on Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills for the remaining 12 years of her life. Moore died in her sleep at the age of 43 in 1973.