Father Gilbert Vincent Ferrer Hartke, O.P., founder of the Drama Department at Catholic University (CU) in 1937, is a campus legend who casts a long shadow. His legacy includes his archival papers that reside in Special Collections, ongoing stage productions including Shakespeare, and above all the long list of stage, film, and television luminaries taught or mentored by CU’s B.M.O.C. These include Jon Voight, Helen Hayes, John Slattery, Ed McMahon, Philip Bosco, Henry Gibson, Susan Sarandon, Lawrence Luckinbill, and Robert Moore. Moore (1927-1984) was a multiple Tony Award nominee director and actor who often collaborated with Neil Simon. Like Hartke, Moore also has a presence on campus, where his small collection, mostly entertainment industry related photographs, is housed in our Special Collections.
Moore was born in Detroit and grew up in Washington. He attended public schools and graduated from Roosevelt High School where he was heavily influenced by drama coach Pauline Eaton Oak. He served for six months in the United States Navy in 1945, and then studied drama sans degree under Fr. Hartke at Catholic University. His first acting gig, to limited success, was in Jean Kerr’s Jenny Kissed Me in 1948. He also worked as typist for the United Nations and at Catholic University. In the 1950s, Hartke invited him to direct summer productions, at least twenty each, at Olney Theater in Maryland and Winooski, Vermont.
Moore made his New York directing debut in 1968 with The Boys in the Band, written by CU classmate Mart Crowley and which won Moore the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Direction of a Play. It ran for three years, simultaneously with Promises, Promises and Last of the Red Hot Lovers. His later stage directions, which garnered five Tony Award nominations, included Deathtrap, They’re Playing Our Song, Woman of the Year, and My Fat Friend.
He also directed many episodes of the television situation comedies, Rhoda, starring Valerie Harper, and The Bob Newhart Show. He also directed three films written by Neil Simon, Murder by Death, The Cheap Detective, and Chapter Two, as well as a television version of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and made for television film Thursday’s Game.
As an actor, he played a disabled gay man opposite Liza Minelli in the 1970 drama Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon. He also appeared in episodes of the aforementioned Rhoda, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Diana Rigg’s Diana. He died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York of pneumonia, due to AIDS complications, one of the early celebrity casualties of that dreaded malady.