Within the first few seconds you met the man everyone knew as T. Max Graham, you laughed. And immediately afterwards, you liked him. He had that amazing power to become everyone’s friend. And now we smile through our tears at the wonderful memories left by Neil Graham “T. Max” Moran, who died Thursday, Oct. 27, in a Kansas City area hospital, after a battle with cancer. He was 70.
An Independence native, Neil was an actor who came to prominence in Kansas City’s dinner theaters during the 1980s. He appeared in a series of hit comedies with Vicki Olson, Dennis Allen and others. Dennis Hennessy, co-owner of the New Theatre, recalls a time when Graham’s name alone helped sell out shows.
“Max was really one of a kind,” Hennessey said. “In the good old days of Tiffany’s Attic, he was a headliner. People would come just to see him.”
Moran had spent a dozen years on the west coast at the start of his career, and made his film debut in the biker film “Angel Unchained.” He was proud of his role in David Lynch's cult classic “Eraserhead.” In recent years, he played character roles in films shot in this area, including Ang Lee’s “Ride with the Devil” and Kevin Wilmott’s award-winning independent “The Only Good Indian.”
He also continued his work at theaters across the metro area, in comedy and drama. He earned critical praise for his lead roles in “Galileo” and “Translation,” and appeared with longtime friend Loretta Swit in “Move Over Mrs. Markham.”
“His life was his art,” says neighbor Karen McCoy. “Max was always preparing scripts, working on his next project. He was totally devoted to his craft.”
Moran was a member of Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild. He appeared in numerous TV series and commercials, and gave generously of his time for community projects. He was a regular reader and performer at Westport Presbyterian Church holiday presentations.
He was part of the workout program at the St. Luke’s Hospital Center for Health Enhancement for 10 years, joined the group’s barbershop harmony mini-chorus -- then known as “Cardiac Carolers” -- and changed the name to “Cardio Jam.”
Survivors include daughter Rhonda Pearson, Centerview, MO; brother Robert D. Moran and wife, Louise, Independence, MO; niece Robyn Maune and husband, Bill, Blue Springs, MO; niece Jane Brooks and husband, Samuel, Grain Valley, MO; nephew Robert David Moran and wife, Susan, Independence; niece Margaret Cox, Independence, and numerous other nieces and nephews.
GRAHAM, T. Max (Graham Moran)
Born: 9/2/1941, Jackson County, Missouri, U.S.A.
Died: 10/27/2011, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.
T. Max Graham's westerns - actor:
Ride With the Devil - 1999 (Reverend Wrigth)
The Only Good Indian - 2009 (Finkle)