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The Tragic ending of Cuckoo Moore – Helen remembers Cuckoo

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Cuckoo in Andaz (1949)
Cuckoo in Andaz (1949)

Helen remembers Cuckoo

Cuckoo Moore, the legendary cabaret queen of the Bollywood was one of those film stars who lived ostentatiously, spent extravagantly and died broke and penniless. Her three cars (one for her use, one for taking her dogs for a drive, and the other often used to summon protégée Helen to play with her sister), her flats and whatever jewellery she had, were all taken away because the dancer had evaded income tax. She would charge Rs 6,000 for a dance number, an enviable fee in the ’50s. The film director she had devoted her life to couldn’t help her when she needed him. Cuckoo died of cancer at the age of 52; during her last days she could barely afford to buy painkillers. “She never thought of security, of tomorrow,” Helen recalls. “But what a tremendous lady she was! There wasn’t even a tear in her eye, even when the roles stopped, when the money disappeared. Instead she’d joke about her plight. Some actors did help but it was too late, much too late.”

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14 Comments

    • I doubt because Mehboob died in 1964 and Cuckoo,s misery started in mid 70,s. I remember an interview of her somewhere in 1977 where she looked terrible and she was acknowledging the support being given to her ( financial) from Premnath. Just further adds to my disgust on this industry who forget their own people so easily.

  1. Sami is right. It was definitely not Mehboob Khan. Actually, Mehboob Khan’s films like Andaz, Anokhi Ada, Aaan were instrumental in taking Cuckoo to the top. Mehboob Khan helped her, not destroyed her.

    I have read somewhere that Mehboob had soft corner for Kumkum who acted in secondary role in Mother India, but then as a leading lady in Son of India 😉

    • You are correct! She was the special lady of Mehboob during the era from “Mother India” to ” Son of India”. Interestingly KumKum was a very versatile actress and acted opposite many top stars but never reached or rather remained at the top.

  2. Yes Mehboob Khan had soft corner for Kumkum but he had many casual affairs with women; (philander)But Kumkum was involved with Ramanand Sagar

  3. Such extra marital affairs are very common place in film industry. Directors, actors, producers routinely take advantage of actresses, especially newcomers and then ditch them to move on to other targets. So, no wonder Cuckoo was also a victim of some fun seeking director. There were so many of them. Could be anyone.

  4. Helen herself was used like anything by P.N.Arora. She managed to get out of his clutches with great difficulty many years later when he was an old haggard man.

  5. Such extravagent living – a car for a dog! But she didn’t deserve such a sad end. Premnath helped her financially, I think, by buying a taxi for her so that she could have a regular source of income. But then Premnath was a generous soul, he helped many people including Sardar Chandulal Shah, the founder of Ranjit studio, who had fallen on bad days.

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