Obituary: Josephine Moore, 98, was former Hollywood starlet, LA socialite

10/08/2013 12:47 PM

10/09/2013 3:29 PM

Josephine Moore, a 1930s Hollywood starlet and model who was active in Los Angeles social circles as the wife of a close associate of Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, died Sept.29 at 98, her family said.

A longtime Placerville resident, she died in Palos Verdes, where she moved in June to be close to her family, said her son Arnie.

The daughter of a grocer, Mrs. Moore was a Southern beauty who got her start in life in classic Hollywood fashion. Born Oct.16, 1914, in Senatobia, Miss., the former Josephine French moved with her parents and seven siblings to Los Angeles in 1920.

She began modeling by 16 and was a senior at Manual Arts High School when a studio agent signed her to join a company of fresh faces at Universal Pictures.

“Her screen name was Verna Clair,” her son said. “It was the old studio system back then, and they were looking for young talent. She was in a troupe of young players that appeared in chorus lines. She did three or four movies back then.”

Mrs. Moore left the film industry around the time she met the handsome son of a California appeals court justice. She married Prentiss E. Moore in 1934 and worked as a model while he attended Loyola Law School.

Besides appearing on billboards selling cars, beer and swimsuits, she modeled at charity events and posed as “the running girl” for one of a series of collectible Coca-Cola trays.

She raised two sons and stopped modeling as her husband’s stature climbed in law and politics. Active in blue book society in Southern California, the couple hobnobbed with entertainers and Democratic politicians at exclusive gatherings, including the Los Angeles Country Club, the California Club and the Jonathan Club.

Prentiss Moore went on to serve as a state deputy attorney general in major water cases and was a member of Pat Brown’s “kitchen cabinet” of unofficial advisers. He was appointed by Brown to be a judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1966.

The couple moved to Placerville after he retired in 1976 and lived in a remodeled, Gold Rush-era home on the site of former mines. They traveled, raised cattle and horses and were active in local organizations.

Mr. Moore, who filled in for vacationing judges around the state while in retirement, died in 1989.

Mrs. Moore, who was honored by the community in 1999 as an El Dorado Rose, was active in the Shakespeare Club and belonged to Federated Church in Placerville. She hosted charitable events and was active in Democratic politics.

In the 1980s, she traveled and spoke at gatherings of Coca-Cola memorabilia collectors. After her husband died, she stayed at their ranch before moving to a retirement community several years ago.

“She was always a fashion plate,” her son said. “She had to be dressed just right, and she would not come out and be seen in public without looking her best. She always looked her best.”

Mrs. Moore is survived by her sons Arnie and Christopher, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A celebration of life is planned for 2p.m. Nov.17 at Federated Church, 1031 Thompson Way, Placerville.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified one of Josephine Moore's sons. The name of the son quoted in this story is Arnie. It also misstated the year that Prentiss Moore was appointed as Los Angeles Superior Court judge. That appointment was made in 1966. Story was updated at 12:40 p.m. and at 3:25 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

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