Kieron Moore Cork-born film actor whose career spanned four decades

Sat, Jul 28, 2007, 01:00

Kieron Moore, who has died aged 82, was a stage, screen and television actor whose career highlights include The Green Scarf(1953) and The Day of the Triffids(1963). But major stardom eluded him after he was woefully miscast as Count Vronskyin the 1948 film version of Anna Karenina.

Described by film historian Bill Warren as being "handsome in a slightly eccentric fashion", he was an intense, but honest, actor whose career, spanning four decades, began in Dublin.

Several members of his family pursued careers in the arts. His sister Neasa Ní Annracháin was a stalwart of the Raidió Éireann Players, while his brother Fachtna was director of music at the station. The broadcaster Doireann Ní Bhriain is a niece.

Born Ciarán Ó hAnnracháin in Skibbereen, Co Cork, in May 1924, he was the son of Peadar Ó hAnnracháin and his wife Máire Ní Dheasún. His father was one of the first organisers for Conradh na Gaeilge, wrote poetry and edited the Southern Star. The family was Irish-speaking.

Following his family's move to Dublin, Moore attended Coláiste Mhuire, Parnell Square. Later, his medical studies at University College Dublin were cut short when he was invited to join the Abbey Players.

At the age of 19, he made his English stage debut in Richmond as Heathcliff in a dramatisation of Wuthering Heights (he starred in a BBC TV production of the play in 1948). He next appeared in Seán O'Casey's Purple Dustin Liverpool.

His first film role, as an IRA man in The Voice Within(1945), promised much, and his performance in the West End hit Red Roses for Meprompted Alexander Korda to offer him a seven-year contract with London Films.

Renamed Kieron Moore, he was cast in a leading role in Man About the House(1947). His next role, in the psychological thriller Mine Own Executioner (1947), confirmed hopes in him.

By now Moore appeared to be on the brink of a major film career. He secured the role of the suave Count Vronsky in Julian Duvivier's Anna Karenina, which also starred Vivien Leigh and Ralph Richardson.

However, the film was compared unfavourably with earlier versions and occasioned the worst notices of his career. The critic James Agee wrote: "Kieron Moore, Britain's newest cinematic idol, is badly miscast as the debonair Vronsky; he appears to be an idol with feet of peat."

Notwithstanding the setback, he was invited to Hollywood, where in 1951 he made two films. He played Uriah the Hittite in the biblical epic David and Bethshebaand a Foreign Legion officer in Ten Tall Men, starring Burt Lancaster.

Returning to the British cinema, he featured in two B-movie thrillers, Mantrap(1953) and Recoil(1953), and he was effective as an officer, brainwashed during the Korean War, in The Blue Peter(1954).

Moore turned to whimsy when, with Sean Connery, Janet Munro and Jimmy O'Dea, he appeared in Darby O'Gill and the Little People(1959). He was impressive in the comedy-thriller The League of Gentlemen(1960), playing a homosexual former officer recruited to take part in a major robbery.

In The Siege of Sidney Street(1960), shot on location in Ireland, he was one of a group of Russian anarchists who barricade themselves against a police raid. There followed roles in Dr Blood's Coffin(1960), The Thin Red Line(1964) and the spy adventure Arabesque(1967). In his final film, Custer of the West(1967), he played Chief Dull Knife.

There were also television appearances in Fabian of the Yard, Jason Kingand Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), as well as a starring role in Ryan International, which he also wrote. He bowed out of acting in 1974.

Moore's strong Catholic faith was tempered by his dislike of the monarchical trappings of the Church. A supporter of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, he worked for the organisation for nine years, during which he made two film documentaries, Progress of Peoples in Peru, and The Parched Earth in Senegal. Later, as projects manager, he travelled to the Middle East and India.

He subsequently became associate editor of the Catholic paper, the Universe, editing the supplement, New Creation, which evolved into the magazine, New Day.

He last worked for television, providing voice-overs for Muiris Mac Conghail's RTÉ documentaries about the Aran Islands and the Blaskets.

He retired in 1994 to the Charente-Maritime in France. He enjoyed reading Flaubert, Stendhal and Proust in the original French, and, in Spanish, Miguel Angel Asturias and Benito Pérez Galdós. Among his favourite English titles were Middlemarchand Daniel Deronda. Irish writers he admired include John McGahern, Seamus Deane, Colm Tóibín and Jennifer Johnston.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara White, who played the heroine in The Voice Within, their daughter Theresa (Soeur Miriame-Therese) and sons Casey, Colm and Seán.

Kieron Moore (Ciarán Ó hAnnracháin): born October 5th, 1924; died July 15th, 2007