James Moore's first play, written at age 12, was staged by his mother at the Eaton Girls Dramatic Club; by 15 he was acting regularly on radio, first for a private station as one of The Crusoe Boys, then for the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, for which he soon began to produce.
After graduating from the University of Toronto (BA 1941) and serving in Intelligence during WWII, Moore returned to CBC Radio as producer for the International Service in Montreal. Concurrently, he was writing and directing radio documentaries for the United Nations, 3 of which won Peabody Awards. During this post-war period Moore also helped his mother in her pioneering creation of the New Play Society (1946), a group Moore managed and produced and for which he would act and write for many years. Chief among his NPS productions was Spring Thaw, a popular annual satirical revue to which he contributed intermittently from 1948 to 1965.
With its advent in 1950 Moore moved to CBC Television, serving as its first chief producer (to 1954); thereafter he was executive producer for television at the United Nations (1955-60). Continuing meanwhile to work for the stage in many capacities (at the NPS, the CREST THEATRE, the STRATFORD FESTIVAL, and the CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY), Moore focused on national subjects in such creative works as Sunshine Town, a musical setting of Stephen Leacock's work (NPS, 1956) and the libretto for Louis Riel (with Jacques Languirand; Canadian Opera Company, 1967).
From the heady days of Canada's centennial celebrations to the end of the century, Moore participated in the creation of several major theatrical institutions, including the CHARLOTTETOWN FESTIVAL (as founding artistic director, 1964-68) and the St. Lawrence Centre (as founding general director, 1965-70). In 1979 Moore became the first artist to chair the CANADA COUNCIL, a position he held until 1983; he served as founding chair of the British Columbia Arts Council (1996-98).
As an educator and journalist, Moore has been a staunch supporter of Canadian culture and an outspoken critic of national philistinism. A professor at York University between 1970 and 1984, he championed cross-disciplinary courses that united art, politics and economics. His published works include an autobiography, 13 dramatic and musical works, poetry, 20 essays and articles, as well as regular journalistic criticism (especially in The Telegram, 1958-60, and The Globe and Mail, 1984-89).
Author of over 100 works for the stage, radio and television, Moore made a particular contribution to MUSICAL THEATRE, with music and/or books and lyrics for 6 musicals and libretti for 3 operas. Since its premiere in 1967, Louis Riel has been produced at the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C., 1975); A Christmas Carol (book and music by Moore), first staged by the Carousel Theatre (Vancouver, 1988) and thereafter presented annually; Erewhon (libretto by Moore, music by Louis Applebaum) was premiered by Pacific Opera Victoria in 2000.
Recipient of seven honorary degrees, Moore was made an officer of the ORDER OF CANADA in 1973 and a companion in 1988. In 1999 he received a GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD for Lifetime Achievement, and was elected to the Order of British Columbia. Other honours include the Warner-Lambert Award in Arts Administration (1989), the Molson Prize (1986), the Queen's Medal (1977), and the Centennial Medal (1967).
Author JENNIFER WISE
Links to Other Sites
Theatre Museum Canada - The Legend Library
Watch a series of captivating interviews with legendary personalities in Canadian theatre, including Susan Benson and Michael Whitfield, Douglas Campbell, Desmond Heeley, Martha Henry, William Hutt, Mavor Moore, William Needles, Jean-Louis Roux, and Paul Thompson. Interviews conducted by actor/director RH Thomson. From the website for Theatre Museum Canada.
The History of Canadian Broadcasting
This site is dedicated to the visionary pioneers who created Canada’s broadcasting industry. Features profiles of members of the CAB Hall of Fame and much more. From the Canadian Communications Foundation.
A brief profile of the accomplished actor and playwright Mavor Moore.
An Address By Mavor Moore, Chairman Of The Canada Council
The text of Mavor Moore's speech in support of the arts sector in Canada. Delivered to “The Empire Club of Canada” in 1980.
The website for the Confederation Centre features an annual events calendar, a biography of “Lucy Maud Montgomery,” audio highlights from “Anne of Green Gables – The Musical,” a virtual tour of the Art Gallery.
Arts icon Mavor Moore dies at 87
An obituary for Canadian cultural icon Mavor Moore, acclaimed actor, writer, director, producer, critic and teacher who founded a host of Canadian artistic institutions, has died in Victoria. From the CBC.ca website.
Guide to Canadian Literary Papers at York University Archives
This website offers online biographies of prominent Canadian writers and a guide to related archives maintained by York University Archives and Special Collections. Click on the menu on the left side of the screen for information about specific authors.