Margaret Louise Bell Moore, better known to television audiences in the 1960s as Bonnie Lou Moore, died on September 21. She was 93 years of age.
Together with her husband, Hubert, they performed as Bonnie Lou & Buster Moore, finding a long-running regular spot on the Jim Walters Jubilee television program starting in 1963. This show was aired extensively across the southern US until the early ’80s, and the pair’s country, Gospel, and bluegrass sound was popular with audiences throughout the region. They recorded and released a number of LPs and toured from home bases in Knoxville and Pigeon Forge, TN.
Margaret loved to tell about how she was accidentally thrust into singing on radio. Buster had a gig on the Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour on WROL in Knoxville, and when one of the band members got sick, he arranged for her to fill in. At that point the die was cast, and the two became a recognized act through radio and television shows in cities like Greenville, Raleigh, Memphis, Harrisburg, and Bristol.
In 1972 the Moores launched their own show, the Smoky Mountain Hayride, in Pigeon Forge, just as the region was coming into its own as a visitor destination. During the tourist season, the show aired nightly from the city’s Coliseum, and continued to run for more than 20 years. On each television program they would talk up Pigeon Forge, with some local historians suggesting that the strength of their show may have played a part in convincing Dolly Parton to invest there heavily in the 1980s.
Margaret is warmly remembered by people in Morristown, TN where she had lived since Buster passed in 1996. She was very active in her church, the First Baptist Church of Morristown.
This Friday (September 25) the family will hold a graveside service to honor her at White Pine Cemetery.
R.I.P., Margaret ‘Bonnie Lou’ Moore.