Today is the birthday of Dorothy Dickson (1893-1995). The daughter of a Kansas City journalist and his feminist wife, she married Carl Hyson in 1914 and the two lived in Chicago where he sold real estate. The couple got swept up in the Castle ballroom dance craze, at the amateur level at first, but they turned out to be so good that they were soon dancing professionally in night clubs and vaudeville. By 1917 they were in New York and appearing in Broadway shows in addition to big time vaud and clubs. They were in half a dozen shows including Oh Boy (1917) and the Ziegfeld Follies through 1920.
In 1921, their manager persuaded them to take on London. It was there that Dickson became a major star of the West End, acting and singing now as well as dancing. The monster hit that launched her was Sally; she took on the Marilyn Miller part, introducing “Look For the Silver Lining” to British audiences, and becoming associated with that song thereafter. She was to remain in England, a close chum of the Queen Mother, for the rest of her life. She divorced Dickson in 1935. The Second World War slowed her career considerably; it finally wound down in the mid 50s.
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And check out 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