By Douglas Perry, The Oregonian
on January 18, 2013 at 9:50 AM, updated January 18, 2013 at 4:11 PM
Gertrude Moran, one of the best American women tennis players of her time and a sensation at Wimbledon, has died. She was 89.The lanky Californian won the U.S. Indoors in 1948 and reached the Wimbledon doubles final the following year. But it wasn’t her stout forehand that made her the center of attention at the famous English tournament. It was her unconventionally short dress, which showed off tightly cut lace panties when she leaped and stretched. At her first match, spectators gasped at the sight of her and newspaper photographers crouched down on the grass to capture the frilly full moon of her rump. The press dubbed her “Gorgeous Gussie.” (She spelled her nickname with a “y,” rather than the sexier “ie” that the news hounds used.) She claimed she was so embarrassed by the fuss that she could barely play. She left the court with her racquet held over her face. After the tournament, The All-England Club chastised her for bringing “vulgarity and sin into tennis.”
Read more – HERE
Moran’s father (died 1960) was a sound technician and electrician at Universal Studios, and possibly because of his connections Moran worked as an extra in a few movies of the 1940s, and her tennis groups occasionally enjoyed Sunday soirees at Charlie Chaplin‘s mansion (she only had lunch alone with Mr. Chaplin one time, however). When Moran was 17 their family was informed that her older brother had been declared missing in action in World War II. She was devastated by the news, and soon went to work at the nearby Douglas Aircraft Company, helping to assemble airplanes for the war effort. She also joined USO tours to California hospitals and military bases.
Moran entered several amateur tennis tourneys in California, eventually rising to eligibility to play at Wimbledon in 1949. Preparing for that appearance, she asked the official Wimbledon host, Ted Tinling to design her outfit. She asked for one sleeve to be one color, the other sleeve to be another color, and the skirt to be a third color. Because of the tournament rule that all outfits had to be white only, he declined but later agreed to design an outfit that complied with the rule.
The first and only time she wore the outfit on court, she walked with her racket in front of her face. “I was embarrassed . . because they were putting so much adulation on the character, ‘Gorgeous Gussie’. You know, I was really never anything to write home about. I was a plain girl. But Life magazine ran a picture calling me Gorgeous Gussie, and the British picked it up and did a real job with it. Then people would see me and I’d hear them say, ‘I’ve seen better-looking waitresses at the hot-dog stand.’ I just went to pieces. Emotionally, I couldn’t handle it.”
Following the 1950 Wimbledon tournament, where she was seeded seventh, Moran’s amateur career ended when she began to tour as a professional with Pauline Betz‘, using the dress incident as the main draw.
Her popularity led her to a cameo appearance (as herself) in the 1952 sports-oriented American movie Pat and Mike, which featured Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. It also allowed her to adorn magazine covers worldwide, and her name was given to a racehorse, an aircraft, and a sauce. She even posed in her frilly kit in department stores.
In 1951 Moran began working for Los Angeles television Channel 4, doing a 15-minute interview with the voice of the Rams, Bob Kelly. In 1955 she became a sports newscaster at WMGM in New York City, a position which lasted until 1961. After leaving WMGM she and a partner became active in manufacturing and selling her own line of tennis clothing (that business closed on 21 Nov. 1963). She then returned to California and became hostess of a racket club in Palm Springs. The hostess position did not last long, however, so she became co-host (with Tom Kennedy) of a daily TV interview show in Hollywood called Sundown. She was fired after eleven weeks (the show was to run for 13 weeks) when she referred to the Catholic religion as a political party.
Moran then returned to giving tennis lessons at a Lake Encino racket club, remaining there for two and a half years. In 1969 she became advertising manager for Tennis World magazine.
In 1970 she participated in another USO tour, this time to Vietnam. While there, her helicopter was shot down, and she suffered several broken and dislocated bones. After recovering from that accident she obtained (1972) a radio sports director position in Los Angeles, at station KFAC, but left after a short stint. She then free-lanced for a fabric manufacturer, and wrote columns for Tennis magazine. She worked for Tennis Unlimited, a promotional company.
Gussie Morans Movie Credits – HERE
Gussie Moran on Who’s Dated Who – HERE