BA 1965, Theatre (Speech)
HDR 1995, College of Liberal Arts
MFA, Yale University
Theatre & Television Director, Los Angeles, CA
After he finished his Purdue degree, what Tom Moore really needed to succeed as a theatre, film, and television director was the belief that he could fly. He realized he could do it while finishing his MFA at Yale Drama School, “when one of the scenes I directed impressed everyone in the class including the professor, and I realized, ‘Wow, maybe I really can be a director,’” he recalls.
Since then he’s gone on to work with countless talented actors on Broadway and in film and television, including Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Anne Bancroft, Sissy Spacek, John Travolta, Carol Burnett, Richard Gere, Patrick Swayze, John Lithgow, Tony Randall, Lynn Redgrave, Ed Asner, and Helen Hunt. His favorite parts of life in showbiz? “Any opening night of my Broadway productions or regional productions. Screening ’night, Mother at the Berlin Film Festival. Being nominated for Tonys and Emmys—and the excitement and anticipation that always came with them.”
His latest passion, however, is flying—literally. The flying trapeze is a favorite hobby, and he has created a documentary, called The Flight Fantastic about it.
At Purdue, I was mentored by a number of unforgettable people: Professors Joe Stockdale and Dorothy Mennen in Purdue Theatre, Earl Harlan in communication, and Al Stewart, director of the Purdue Glee Club. I'm still in touch with all of my close friends from Purdue—Larry Russell, Bill Lampe, Joan Pape, Cyndi Miller Larimer, Peter Saputo, Carole Lockwood, and Janet Daugherty. I was also mentored by professors in the speech and political science departments, my respective major and minor. Purdue was not a theatre school, but because of a few extraordinary people, I was encouraged to find my place in the world of theatre, and everything just fell into place.
I love tradition, so any ritual of Purdue history was fun for me (and still is). I particularly loved performing with the Glee Club at the Edward C. Elliott Hall of Music, and I loved performing in Loeb Playhouse and the Experimental Theatre. It was great fun to bring a film of mine back to screen at Loeb Playhouse, as it had so many memories for me. Whenever I return to Purdue, I always walk through campus, seeing what memories come to mind. They are always a little different. (Perhaps because I am!)
When I think about Purdue, I remember mostly the people, both friends and teachers. And the fact that it made so much of what came later possible. I have very fond memories of coming back as an alumnus, as an Old Master, a CLA Distinguished Alumnus, and extraordinarily important to me, to receive my Honorary Doctorate. As I recently told a friend, it allowed me to sort of rewrite my personal history at Purdue, and replace the "dork" that was me with someone at least moderately "cool." I owe Purdue's Dorothy Mennen, my supporter-in-chief, for putting me up for every one of those awards.
I think my greatest achievement is finding joy in most everything I did, and having the perspective to always keep things in perspective.
Living Person I Admire
I am in awe of what people working for the common good can and do accomplish. A life in showbiz is not exactly free of narcissism. (Purdue really should have taught me how to spell that word. I get it wrong every time.) And it is those who are actually making the world a better place who have my admiration.
Idea of Perfect Happiness
Perfect happiness is being with friends and family, feeling appreciated and valued, and doing things—whether work, play, or travel—that bring new challenges and new insight. The feeling that something wonderful is just around the corner.
Profession I’d Like to Try
As my avocation is the flying trapeze, I think it might have been fun to be an aerial artist…but actually, I've had the career I wanted, and would no doubt do the same all over again.