The Dorothy Ford Centennial

Born 100 years ago this day: model, chorine actress Dorothy Ford (1922-2010).

Despite several years study with the Actor’s Lab (the Hollywood version of the Group Theatre) Ford’s claim to fame was her 6′ 2″ height and her well-endowed body. Billed as a “Glamazon”, she was taller than Joan Shawlee, though not as tall as Ricki Covette. It was enough to get her cast in dozens of Hollywood films in smaller supporting parts and prominent walk-ons (often as a sight gag). One of the showiest of these was in Love Laughs at Andy Hardy (1946) because it allowed for whimsical publicity shots placing her alongside diminutive star Mickey Rooney (above).

A West Coast native, Ford started out in the chorus of Earl Carroll revues and in Billy Rose’s Aquacade at the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. She was also appeared in nightclubs like the Cocoanut Grove. Of her 40+ screen credits, a goodly proportion were in support of classic comedians and comedy directors: she’s in Thousands Cheer (1943) and Bathing Beauty (1944) with Red Skelton; Here Come the Co-Eds (1945) and Jack and the Beanstalk (1952) with Abbott and Costello, as well as their TV show; The Buster Keaton Show; Let’s Go Navy (1951) and Feudin’ Fools (1952) with the Bowery Boys; Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight (1952), Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch (1955); and Pardners (1956), the penultimate film starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. With John Wayne she appeared in 3 Godfathers (1948), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and The High and the Mighty (1954). Other well-known pictures include Broadway Rhythm (1944), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), Lover Come Back (1946), and Indestructible Man (1956) with Lon Chaney Jr. On TV she had a recurring role on Space Patrol (1954), and made numerous appearances on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. She retired from the screen in 1962.

For more on show business history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy read  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.