Today is the birthday of Dorothy Lamour (1914-1996). She got her start in show business as a teenager when her exotic French-Spanish-Irish good looks won her the title of Miss New Orleans. She moved to Chicago and began singing with big bands, and this enabled her to break into radio by the mid 30s, singing on the Rudy Vallee show and others. In 1936 she moved to Hollywood, starring in dozens of films, most famously as the triangular love interest in Hope and Crosby’s “Road” movies (and the co-star of several solo Hope and Crosby films, e.g. My Favorite Brunette).
Her film career started to taper off in the early 1950s (so much so that Hope and Crosby very ungenerously tried to shut her out of 1962′s The Road to Hong Kong. They ended up giving her a small part and giving the babe role to Joan Collins. This was kind of ironic given that the pair were a couple of creaky old cadavers by this point themselves, scarcely more appealing than Lamour. But then they were only supposed to be comedians; she was expected to be a sex symbol, That said, the screenplay does expect Collins to find both Hope and Crosby, each old enough to be her father, attractive. The finest acting of her career!)
But here’s Lamour in happier days, performing a duet with Bring Crosby in 1940′s The Road to Singapore (before they are rudely interrupted by Hope):
For more on comedy film history don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.