DOROTHY LAMOUR Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Dorothy Lamour.                                                                   
Birth name: Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton                                                   
Born: 10 December 1914 New Orleans, Louisiana                                           
Died: 22 September 1996 Los Angeles, California                                         
Dorothy Lamour (born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton December 10, 1914 – September 22,       
1996) was an American motion picture actress.                                           
She is probably best-remembered for appearing in the Road to... movies, a string       
of successful comedies co-starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.                           
Lamour was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter       
of Carmen Louise (née LaPorte) and John Watson Slaton, both of whom were waiters.     
Her parents' marriage lasted only a few years, with her mother re-marrying to           
Clarence Lambour, and Dorothy took his last name. The marriage also ended in           
divorce when Dorothy was a teenager. The family finances were so desperate that         
when she was 15, she forged her mother's name to a document that authorized her         
to drop out of school. Later, however, she did go to a secretarial school that         
did not require her to have a high school diploma. She regarded herself as an           
excellent typist and usually typed her own letters, even after she became quite         
After she won the 1931 Miss New Orleans beauty contest, she and her mother moved       
to Chicago, where Lamour earned $17 a week as an elevator operator for the             
Marshall Field department store on State Street. She had no training as a singer       
but was persuaded by a friend to try out for a female vocalist's spot with             
Herbie Kay, a band leader who had a national radio show called "The Yeast               
Foamers", apparently because it was sponsored by Fleischmann's Yeast.                   
She left Kay's group and moved to Manhattan, where Rudy Vallee, then a popular         
singer, helped her get a singing job at a popular night club, El Morocco. She           
later worked at 1 Fifth Avenue, a cabaret where she met Louis B. Mayer, the             
Hollywood studio chief. It was Mayer who eventually arranged for her to have a         
screen test, which led to her Paramount contract in 1935.                               
In 1935, she had her own fifteen-minute weekly musical program on NBC Radio. She       
also sang on the popular Rudy Vallee radio show. When she was at her zenith as a       
star, her fans suggested that an agent had adopted her last name from the French       
word for "love" as a box-office ploy. In fact, the name was close to one in the         
family; Lamour adapted it herself from Lambour, which was the last name of her         
stepfather, Clarence.                                                                   
Early in her career, Lamour met J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau         
of Investigations. According to Hoover's biographer Richard Hack, Hoover               
pursued Lamour romantically, but she was initially interested only in friendship       
with him. Hoover and Lamour remained close friends to the end of Hoover's life,         
and after his 1972 death, Lamour did not deny rumors that she'd had an affair           
with him in the years after she divorced Kay.                                           
In 1936, she moved to Hollywood and began appearing regularly in films for             
Paramount Pictures. The role that made her a star was Ulah (a sort of female           
Tarzan) in The Jungle Princess (1936). She wore a sarong, which would become           
associated with her, and captivated many viewers with her sensuous exotic               
attractive appearance. While she first achieved stardom as a sex symbol, Lamour         
also showed talent as both a comic and dramatic actress. She was among the most         
popular actresses in motion pictures from 1936 to 1952.                                 
She appeared in the classic series of "Road to..." movies, such as Road to             
Morocco, also starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in the 1940s and 1950s. The             
movies were enormously popular during the 1940s, and they regularly placed among       
the very top moneymaking films each year as a new one came out. While the films         
centered more on the talents of Hope and Crosby, Lamour held her own as their           
straight man, looked beautiful, and sang some of her most popular songs. Her           
appearance in the films was considered by the public and theater owners of equal       
importance to the contributions of Crosby and Hope during the series' golden era,       
1940-1952. It was only after the series was essentially over with the release of       
Road to Bali in 1952 and her career declining while co-stars Hope and Crosby           
remained major show business figures that her contributions to the series began         
being downplayed by journalists. During the World War II years, Lamour was among       
the most popular pinup girls among American servicemen, along with Betty Grable,       
Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner. Lamour was also largely responsible for starting       
up the war bond tours in which movie stars would travel the country selling war         
bonds for the U.S. Government to the public. Lamour alone promoted the sale of         
over $21 million dollars worth of war bonds, and other stars promoted the sale         
of a billion more.                                                                     
Some of Dorothy Lamour's other notable films include John Ford's The Hurricane (1937), 
Spawn of the North (1938), Disputed Passage (1939), Johnny Apollo (1940), Aloma         
of the South Seas (1941), Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942), Dixie (1943), A Medal         
for Benny (1945), My Favorite Brunette (1947), On Our Merry Way (1948) and the         
best picture Oscar-winner The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). Her leading men           
included William Holden, Tyrone Power, Ray Milland, Henry Fonda, Jack Benny,           
George Raft, and Fred MacMurray.                                                       
Dorothy Lamour starred in a number of movie musicals and sang in many of her           
comedies and dramatic films as well, introducing a number of standards including       
"The Moon of Manakoora", "I Remember You", "It Could Happen to You", "Personality",     
and "But Beautiful". Lamour's film career petered out in the early 1950s and she       
began a new career as a nightclub entertainer and occasional stage actress. In         
the 1960s she returned to the screen for secondary roles in three films and             
became more active in the legitimate theater, headlining a road company of Hello       
Dolly! for over a year near the end of the decade.                                     
Lamour's lack of pretension and good humor allowed her to have a remarkably long       
career in show business for someone best known as a glamour girl. She was a             
popular draw on the dinner theatre circuit of the 1970s. In the 1960s and 1970s,       
she lived with her longtime husband William Ross Howard III (whom she married in       
1943), in the Hampton suburb of Towson, Maryland. After he died in 1978,               
Lamour kicked her career into high gear, publishing her autobiography My Side of       
the Road in 1980, reviving her nightclub act, and performing in plays and acting       
on such television shows as Hart to Hart, Crazy Like a Fox, and Murder She Wrote.       
As she entered her late seventies, in 1990, she made only a handful of                 
professional appearances but she remained a popular interview subject for               
publications and TV talk and news programs. In 1995 the musical Swinging on a           
Star, a revue of songs written by Johnny Burke opened on Broadway and ran for           
three months; Lamour was credited as a "special advisor" in the credits. Burke         
wrote many of the most famous "Road to..." movie songs as well as the score to         
Lamour's And the Angels Sing. The musical only ran three months but was                 
nominated for the Best Musical Tony Award and the actress playing "Dorothy             
Lamour" in the Road movie segment, Kathy Fitzgerald was also nominated.                 
Lamour died at her home in North Hollywood, California at the age of 81 from a         
heart attack. She was interred in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in         
Los Angeles, California, after a Catholic funeral service.