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Love story unfolds like a movie

Sunday, March 30, 2003

I have been on a journey back in time.

Last week, I talked about being contacted for information about the Barbizon Hotel for Women. A writer in New York, Ellen Abrams, was hoping to write about the hotel that at one time was a favored safe haven for young women heading to New York for their careers.

I had stayed there for three months or so in 1951, later renting a room a few blocks away for the other three months I would remain in New York.

I had things to share with Ellen, but I also found my curiosity was piqued, especially about one friend I had met at the hotel and hadn't seen for 50 years.

Her name was Marguerite Guarnery.

She became Marg Warner when she married and was a Ford model in the mid-1950s.

Then, after her divorce from Joe Warner, it was Margo Moore as a Hollywood actress with 20th Century Fox.

I kept up with the name changes to that point. Then I lost touch.

I have learned there would be one more name change: Margo Moore-Knedlhans.

After I left New York, I would see Marg on television on "The Arthur Godfrey Show" as a Toni girl or posing for products for skin and hair care. She had, it seemed to me, the perfect face. She was on fashion magazine covers.

"There she is. There's Marg!" My family just allowed me to rant. I was just tickled to know someone who was making it. Years passed.

In 1960, it would come full circle.

I was now a journalist, working for The Pittsburgh Press. I was assigned to do a phone interview with the leading lady, a newcomer, in the Ernie Kovacs' movie "Wake Me When It's Over."

Her name, I was told, was Margo Moore.

We had run around the Barbizon halls in our pajamas, hair in rollers, giggling about a date, sharing "doggie bags" from restaurants.

She was now in the movies. I was, I thought, another Brenda Starr.

This is where the years had taken us.

The interview went fine. The movie was pretty bad. She told me she had a young son named Darryl. I thought she had it all.

I never saw her or talked with her again after our interview. I simply lost track. Our lives moved on.

I had given the name Margo Moore to the Barbizon researcher, in case she wanted to get more hotel memories. It was she who looked up her name on the Screen Actors Guild Web page and got more information.

The Internet bio said she and her husband, Joe Knedlhans, had opened a Toy Robot and Pig Museum in 2000 in Stoudtburg Village, Adamstown, Lancaster County.

My mind was whirling. A what?

I had to know more.

Her life, I would discover, had taken many turns.

In the years since our adventure in 1951, she had several careers. To modeling and acting she added a portrait photography business in San Francisco, returning to New York in the mid-'80s to open The Chocolate Garden, a candy store at 79th Street and Third Avenue. That's when she and Joe met. Now retired, he had been with the NYPD and was a member of the SWAT team.

It was a love story. I was entranced. It was unfolding like a movie.

We exchanged e-mails and he was kind enough to send me pictures. I could tell from our conversations that he loved her very much. They were opposites, he said, and he is almost 20 years younger.

For most of the 18 years, they lived in New York City, near Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the past few years in Adamstown -- yes, where they opened the Toy Robot and Pig Museum.

I smile at the whimsy of the name.

But this isn't the ending. I will wrap up this journey next week.

Barbara Cloud can be reached atbcloud@post-gazette.com .

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