Constance Moore, 84, the singer-actress who starred in a string of World War II-era movie musicals and gained cult-film status as Buster Crabbe's co-star in the 1939 "Buck Rogers" serial, died Sept. 16 at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles.
Among her more than 40 film credits are the musicals "Show Business" (1944) with Eddie Cantor and George Murphy, "Delightfully Dangerous" (1945) with Jane Powell, "Earl Carroll Vanities" (1945) with Dennis O'Keefe and "Hit Parade of 1947" (1947) with Eddie Albert.
She also appeared with Ray Milland and William Holden in the wartime drama "I Wanted Wings" (1941), starred with Bill Elliott in the Western "In Old Sacramento" (1946) and supported Rosalind Russell and Fred MacMurray in the comedy "Take a Letter, Darling" (1942).
On television two decades later, she starred with Robert Young in the short-lived "Window on Main Street," a 1961-62 situation comedy.
But Ms. Moore may be best remembered for playing the daughter of W.C. Fields's Larson E. Whipsnade in the classic 1939 comedy "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man" and for starring with Crabbe in "Buck Rogers," the science-fiction serial based on the popular comic strip.
As for working with Fields and co-star Edgar Bergen on "You Can't Cheat an Honest Man," Ms. Moore once recalled in an interview that during cast meetings on the set each morning, ventriloquist Bergen would launch into a routine with his famous dummy, Charlie McCarthy, who had his own chair with his name on it.
Finally, Ms. Moore recalled, Fields barked: "That's enough! Get off the set."
But, she said, "what made it so funny -- and so ridiculous -- was that he was speaking to Charlie McCarthy, and not to Bergen!"
Taking time out from her burgeoning film career during World War II, Ms. Moore played the romantic lead in the Rodgers and Hart 1942 Broadway hit "By Jupiter," starring Ray Bolger.
Wrote the New York World-Telegram of Ms. Moore's performance: "Nothing so gorgeous has been seen on a Broadway stage for a couple of wars. She's a Texan socialite who soared high and fast in Hollywood due to her unique possession of Grade A singing and acting ability as well as her obvious, radiating allure."
Born Mary Constance Moore in Sioux City, Iowa, she grew up in Dallas, where she studied voice and harbored a dream of becoming an opera singer.
That changed after her godfather, the owner of a chain of Dallas drugstores, sponsored a radio show on a CBS affiliate to showcase Ms. Moore's impressive contralto.
While still in high school, Ms. Moore became the featured singer on "The Early Bird's Program," on which she sang popular songs of the day.
A Universal talent scout heard her sing on a CBS program and signed her to a contract without the requisite screen test.
Her husband, talent agent John Maschio, whom she married in 1939, died in 1998.
Survivors include two children; two sisters; two grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.