Grace Moore American soprano 1898-1947

Grace Moore American soprano 1898-1947 Photo: Carl van Vechten

Grace Moore (5 december 1898 – 26 januari 1947) var en amerikansk operasopran och skådespelerska inom musikteater och film.   Hon fick smeknamnet ”Tennessee Nightingale”. Hennes filmer hjälpte till att popularisera opera genom att föra den till en större publik. Hon nominerades till Oscar för bästa skådespelerska för sin framträdande i  One Night of Love .

In 1947, Moore died in a plane crash at the age of 48. She published an autobiography in 1944 titled You’re Only Human Once. In 1953, a film about her life was released titled So This Is Love starring Kathryn Grayson.

Grace Moore American soprano 1898-1947

Early life 

Moore was born Mary Willie Grace Moore, the daughter of Tessa Jane (née Stokely) and Richard Lawson Moore. She was born in the community of Slabtown (now considered part of Del Rio) in Cocke County, Tennessee. By the time she was two years old, her family had relocated to Knoxville, a move Moore later described as traumatic, as she found urban life distasteful at the time. After several years in Knoxville, the family again relocated to Jellico, Tennessee, where Moore spent her adolescence. After high school in Jellico, she studied briefly at Ward-Belmont College in Nashville before moving to Washington, D.C. and New York City to continue her musical training and begin her career. Her first paying job as a singer was at the Black Cat Cafe in Greenwich Village. 


Musical theater 

Grace Moore monument in Jellico, Tennessee.

Grace Moore’s first Broadway appearance was in 1920 in the musical Hitchy-Koo, by Jerome Kern. In 1922 and 1923 she appeared in the second and third of Irving Berlin’s series of four Music Box Revues. In the 1923 edition she and John Steel introduced Berlin’s song ”What’ll I Do”. When Moore sang ”An Orange Grove in California”, orange blossom perfume was wafted through the theater. 

In 1932 she appeared on Broadway in the short-lived operetta The DuBarry by Karl Millöcker.


In the 1930s and 1940s she gave concert performances throughout the United States and Europe, performing a repertoire of operatic selections and other songs in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and English. During World War II, she was active in the USO, entertaining American troops abroad.  In 1945 she sang Mimi to Nino Martini’s Rodolfo in La bohème for the inaugural performance of the San Antonio Grand Opera Festival. After training in France, Moore made her operatic debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on February 7, 1928, singing the role of Mimì in Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème. She debuted at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on September 29, 1928 in the same role, which she also performed in a Royal Command Performance at Covent Garden in London on June 6, 1935. During her sixteen seasons with the Metropolitan Opera, she sang in several Italian and French operas as well as the title roles in ToscaManon, and LouiseLouise was her favorite opera and is widely considered to have been her greatest role.

She also performed during and after WWII in support of Allied Forces. From the personal memoire of Lt. Gen. John C. H. Lee, on 24 July 1945: ”After an early dinner drove in convoy to the Paris Opera House for the gala performance entitled ”Pacifique 45” given by the French for the benefit of the families of French war veterans. The program laid particular emphasis on the war in Japan and included the showing of two films – ”Fighting Lady” and ”Iwo Jima” and the rendition of several songs and the French and American national anthems by Grace Moore. Seated in the box of honor were General Alphonse Juin, the French Minister of Information Jacques Soustelle, and a number of important American and French officers. It seemed to be a great success and was particularly appreciated by the crowd of some 20,000 gathered in the square outside the Opera House.”



Historical marker noting Moore’s birthplace in Del Rio, Tennessee

Attracted to Hollywood in the early years of talking pictures, Moore had her first screen role as Jenny Lind in the 1930 film A Lady’s Morals, produced for MGM by Irving Thalberg and directed by Sidney Franklin.  Later that same year she starred with the Metropolitan Opera singer Lawrence Tibbett in New Moon, also produced by MGM, the first screen version of Sigmund Romberg’s operetta The New Moon.

After a hiatus of several years, Moore returned to Hollywood under contract to Columbia Pictures, for whom she made six films. In the 1934 film One Night of Love, her first film for Columbia, she portrayed a small-town girl who aspires to sing opera. For that role she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1935. She starred in 1936 as Empress Elisabeth of Austria in Josef von Sternberg’s production The King Steps Out.

By this time, she was so popular that MGM was able to insist on equal billing for Moore in a projected film with Maurice Chevalier, who had always enjoyed solo star billing up until then. Chevalier felt so deeply about this blow to his status that he quit Hollywood and the film was never made. 

A memorable highlight of When You’re in Love (1937) was a comic scene in which Moore donned flannel shirt and trousers and joined a 5-man band for a flamboyant rendition of Cab Calloway’s ”Minnie the Moocher”, complete with gestures and ”hi-de-ho’s”, but with the lyrics slightly altered to conform with Hollywood sensibilities. Also, she performed the popular Madama Butterfly duet ”Vogliatemi bene” with American tenor Frank Forest in the 1937 film I’ll Take Romance.

The last film that Moore made was Louise (1939), an abridged version of Gustave Charpentier’s opera of the same name, with spoken dialog in place of some of the original opera’s music. The composer participated in the production, authorizing the cuts and changes to the libretto, coaching Moore, and advising director Abel Gance. This production also featured two renowned French singers: dramatic tenor Georges Thill and basse cantante André Pernet. 


She was widely criticized in December 1938 when she curtsied to the Duchess of Windsor, in Cannes. Upon her return to the United States after six months and ten days in Europe (”to save money in income tax”), Moore defended her curtsy, saying:

She would have been a royal duchess long ago if she had not been an American. After all, she gave happiness and the courage of his convictions to one man, which is more than most women can do. She deserves a curtsy for that alone.  

According to Joe Laurie Jr., vaudeville performer and historian, Grace Moore would not perform on vaudeville bills that had black performers. 


In 1935 Moore received the gold medal award of the Society of Arts and Sciences for ”conspicuous achievement in raising the standard of cinema entertainment.” In 1936 King Christian X of Denmark awarded her his country’s medal of ’Ingenito et Arti.’ In 1937, she was commissioned as a colonel (an honorary position) on the staff of the governor of Tennessee, and was also made a life member of the Tennessee State Society of Washington, D.C. She was decorated as a chevalier of the French Légion d’honneur in 1939.   Moore was also a member of the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors from 1940 to 1942. 

Personal life 

Moore married Valentín Parera, a Spanish movie actor, in Cannes, on July 15, 1931. They had no children. During the 1930s they maintained homes in Hollywood, Cannes, and Connecticut.


Grace Moore died in a plane crash near Copenhagen’s airport on January 26, 1947, at the age of 48. Among the other plane crash victims was Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden,  who was at the time second in line to the Swedish throne and who was the father of the present King of Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustaf. Moore is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga.

A collection of Moore’s papers is housed at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.


  • A Lady’s Morals (1930; later released under the title Jenny Lind in the United Kingdom and in a French-language version)
  • New Moon (1930)
  • One Night of Love (1934)
  • Love Me Forever (1935)
  • The King Steps Out (1936)
  • When You’re in Love (1937)
  • I’ll Take Romance (1937)
  • Louise (1939)

Metropolitan Opera

[Met Performance] CID:98330
La Bohème {251}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/7/1928
Debut: Grace Moore
[Met Performance] CID:98690
La Bohème {252}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/3/1928
[Met Performance] CID:98890
La Bohème {253}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/17/1928
[Met Performance] CID:98950
Gianni Schicchi {19} Pagliacci {265}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/21/1928
Debut: Paul Eisler, Jr.
[Met Performance] CID:99200
Gianni Schicchi {20} Hänsel und Gretel {102}
Metropolitan Opera House; 04/7/1928
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:99210
Gala Easter Concert
Metropolitan Opera House; 04/8/1928
[Met Performance] CID:99460
Carmen {306}
Auditorium, Atlanta, Georgia; 04/28/1928
[Met Performance] CID:101320
Carmen {311}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/4/1929
[Met Performance] CID:101460
Roméo et Juliette {150}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/13/1929
[Met Performance] CID:101590
Roméo et Juliette {151}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/22/1929
[Met Performance] CID:103730
Manon {89}
Metropolitan Opera House; 12/21/1929
[Met Performance] CID:103880
Carmen {313}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/1/1930
[Met Performance] CID:103930
Roméo et Juliette {154}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/4/1930
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:104030
Gala Concert
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/12/1930
[Met Performance] CID:104110
Carmen {314}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/18/1930
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:104120
Special Concert
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/19/1930
[Met Performance] CID:104240
Roméo et Juliette {156}
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 01/28/1930
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:104310
Gala Concert
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/2/1930
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:104400
Grand Concert
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/9/1930
[Met Performance] CID:104530
Faust {377}
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 02/18/1930
[Met Performance] CID:104550
La Bohème {266}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/20/1930
[Met Performance] CID:104770
Faust {378}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/7/1930
[Met Performance] CID:107830
Manon {96}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/11/1931
[Met Performance] CID:107950
Roméo et Juliette {162}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/20/1931
Debut: Georges Thill
[Met Performance] CID:108010
Manon {97}
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 03/24/1931
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:108080
Special Concert
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/29/1931
[Met Performance] CID:108090
Roméo et Juliette {163}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/30/1931
[Met Performance] CID:108260
Faust {386}
Metropolitan Opera House; 04/11/1931
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:108280
Gala Concert
Metropolitan Opera House; 04/12/1931
[Met Performance] CID:108410
Carmen {324}
Cleveland, Ohio; 04/30/1931
[Met Performance] CID:110530
Roméo et Juliette {164}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/26/1932
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:110570
Special Sunday Night Concert
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/28/1932
[Met Performance] CID:110640
Manon {102}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/5/1932
Broadcast (Acts III, IV)
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:110660 
Grand Operatic Surprise Party
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/6/1932
[Met Performance] CID:110740
La Bohème {288}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/12/1932
[Met Performance] CID:110840
Les Contes d’Hoffmann {49}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/19/1932
[Met Performance] CID:110940
Manon {103}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/26/1932
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:110950 
Easter Sunday Concert
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/27/1932
[Met Performance] CID:111110
Les Contes d’Hoffmann {50}
Westchester County Center, White Plains, New York; 04/8/1932
[Met Performance] CID:111120
Roméo et Juliette {167}
Metropolitan Opera House; 04/9/1932
Broadcast (Acts II, III)
[Met Performance] CID:111170
Les Contes d’Hoffmann {51}
Metropolitan Opera House; 04/13/1932
[Met Performance] CID:111240
Les Contes d’Hoffmann {52}
Baltimore, Maryland; 04/18/1932
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:113350 
Gatti-Casazza 25th Anniversary
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/26/1933
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:115070
Operatic Surprise Party of 1934
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/11/1934
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:117180
Special Concert
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/24/1935
[Met Concert/Gala] CID:117280
Grand Operatic Surprise Party
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/31/1935
[Met Performance] CID:118980
La Bohème {314}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/4/1936
[Met Performance] CID:119120
La Bohème {315}
Metropolitan Opera House; 03/14/1936
[Met Performance] CID:122570
La Bohème {325}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/15/1938
[Met Performance] CID:122640
Manon {130}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/20/1938
[Met Performance] CID:122860
Manon {131}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/7/1938
[Met Performance] CID:123020
La Bohème {327}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/18/1938
[Met Performance] CID:123650
La Bohème {329}
Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio; 04/9/1938
[Met Performance] CID:124880 
Louise {24}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/28/1939
[Met Performance] CID:124930
Louise {25}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/1/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125000
Louise {26}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/6/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125060
La Bohème {332}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/10/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125070 
Thaïs {40}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/10/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125120
Louise {27}
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 02/14/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125170
Louise {28}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/17/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125240
Louise {29}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/23/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125540
La Bohème {335}
Boston, Massachusetts; 03/18/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125570
Louise {30}
Boston, Massachusetts; 03/21/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125650
Louise {31}
Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio; 03/28/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125680
Manon {137}
Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio; 03/31/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125720
Manon {138}
Eastman Theatre, Rochester, New York; 04/3/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125780
Manon {139}
Fair Park Auditorium, Dallas, Texas; 04/10/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125810
La Bohème {337}
Fair Park Auditorium, Dallas, Texas; 04/12/1939
[Met Performance] CID:125830
La Bohème {338}
New Orleans, Louisiana; 04/14/1939
[Met Performance] CID:127190
Manon {140}
Metropolitan Opera House; 12/13/1939
[Met Performance] CID:127570
La Traviata {230}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/11/1940
[Met Performance] CID:127590
Manon {141}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/13/1940
[Met Performance] CID:127690
Louise {32}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/20/1940
Debut: Reno Mabilli
[Met Performance] CID:127830
Louise {33}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/1/1940
[Met Performance] CID:128010
Louise {34}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/14/1940
[Met Performance] CID:128080 
Manon {143}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/19/1940
Debut: Raoul Jobin
[Met Performance] CID:128090
New production
Le Nozze di Figaro {55}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/20/1940
Debuts: Vonn Irkust, Ladislas Czettel
[Met Performance] CID:128620
Manon {144}
Boston Opera House, Boston, Massachusetts; 04/3/1940
[Met Performance] CID:128690
La Bohème {345}
Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio; 04/10/1940
[Met Performance] CID:128800
Tannhäuser {318}
Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana; 04/19/1940
[Met Performance] CID:128840
La Bohème {346}
Municipal Auditorium, Atlanta, Georgia; 04/23/1940
[Met Performance] CID:130100
Louise {35}
Metropolitan Opera House; 12/11/1940
[Met Performance] CID:130260
Louise {36}
Metropolitan Opera House; 12/23/1940
[Met Performance] CID:130440
Louise {37}
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 01/7/1941
[Met Performance] CID:130690
Louise {38}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/28/1941
[Met Performance] CID:130810
L’Amore dei Tre Re {59}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/7/1941
Debut: Italo Montemezzi
[Met Performance] CID:130850
Louise {39}
Horace Bushnell Memorial Hall, Hartford, Connecticut; 02/11/1941
[Met Performance] CID:130900
L’Amore dei Tre Re {60}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/15/1941
[Met Performance] CID:131030
L’Amore dei Tre Re {61}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/24/1941
[Met Performance] CID:131500
L’Amore dei Tre Re {62}
Metropolitan Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts; 04/3/1941
[Met Performance] CID:131750
La Bohème {350}
Richmond Mosque, Richmond, Virginia; 05/1/1941
[Met Performance] CID:131760
Le Nozze di Figaro {69}
Richmond Mosque, Richmond, Virginia; 05/2/1941
[Met Performance] CID:132290
Tosca {252}
Metropolitan Opera House; 12/18/1941
Debut: Michael Kreatsoulas
[Met Performance] CID:132450
La Bohème {352}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/1/1942
[Met Performance] CID:132540
Tosca {253}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/9/1942
[Met Performance] CID:132760
Tosca {254}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/26/1942
[Met Performance] CID:132810
La Bohème {353}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/30/1942
[Met Performance] CID:132910
Tosca {255}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/7/1942
[Met Performance] CID:132980
Tosca {256}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/13/1942
[Met Performance] CID:134070
La Bohème {358}
Metropolitan Opera House; 11/30/1942
Debut: Frances Greer
[Met Performance] CID:134190
La Bohème {359}
Metropolitan Opera House; 12/12/1942
[Met Performance] CID:134220
Tosca {260}
American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 12/15/1942
[Met Performance] CID:134270
Tosca {261}
Metropolitan Opera House; 12/19/1942
Debut: Tony D’Addozio
[Met Performance] CID:134380
Tosca {262}
Metropolitan Opera House; 12/30/1942
[Met Performance] CID:134540
Louise {40}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/15/1943
[Met Performance] CID:134670
Louise {41}
Metropolitan Opera House; 01/25/1943
[Met Performance] CID:134960
Louise {42}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/20/1943
[Met Performance] CID:136730
Tosca {265}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/3/1944
Debut: John Sullivan
[Met Performance] CID:136800
La Bohème {369}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/9/1944
Debut: Anton Schubel
[Met Performance] CID:137010
Tosca {266}
Metropolitan Opera House; 02/28/1944
[Met Performance] CID:137460
Tosca {268}
Metropolitan Opera House; 04/8/1944
[Met Performance] CID:137630
Tosca {269}
Civic Opera House, Chicago, Illinois; 04/24/1944
[Met Performance] CID:138040 
La Bohème {375}
Metropolitan Opera House; 12/1/1944
Debut: Hugh Thompson
[Met Performance] CID:138290
La Bohème {376}
Metropolitan Opera House; 12/23/1944

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