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Shore, Dinah (Frances Rose)

Shore, Dinah (Frances Rose)

Shore, Dinah (Frances Rose), American singer, television personality, and actress; b. Winchester, Term., March 1, 1917; d. Los Angeles, Feb. 24, 1994. Shore was the most successful solo female recording artist of the 1940s, while also maintaining a constant presence on radio. In the 1950s and early 1960s she hosted her own musical variety series on television, and she returned to TV as a talk show host in the 1970s. Her Southern background was reflected in her warm manner and engaging singing style. Among her 69 singles that reached the charts between 1940 and 1957, the most popular were “I’ll Walk Alone,” “The Gypsy,” and “Buttons and Bows.”

The daughter of S. A. and Anna Stein Shore, Shore grew up in Nashville, where she sang in her church choir. During her college years she took singing and acting lessons and sang on the local radio station. She made a first attempt to launch a career as a singer in N.Y. in 1937 before returning home to graduate from Vanderbilt Univ. with a B. A. in sociology in 1938. Then she headed back to N.Y. Early in her career she adopted the 1925 song “Dinah” (music by Harry Akst, lyrics by Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young) as her theme song; she also adopted the title as her first name.

In N.Y, Shore sang without pay on WNEW, a local station, where her vocal coach was Jimmy Rich. She sang with Leo Reisman and His Orch. at the Strand Theatre in N.Y. in January 1939 and in March began performing on the network radio series Ben Bernie, the Old Maestro. In August she launched her own network radio series, The Dinah Shore Show, a 15-minute weekly broadcast on Sunday evenings that ran through January 1940. She made her first recordings in 1939 as a featured vocalist with Xavier Cugat and His Orch.

Shore became a regular on the musical satire program Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street in February 1940. Her own show returned to the air in June and ran through September. She signed a recording contract with the Bluebird label of RCA Victor and had her first Top Ten hit in January 1941 with “Yes, My Darling Daughter” (music and lyrics by Jack Lawrence, based on a Ukrainian folk song), which she had performed on the Eddie Cantor Show, having joined the program in late 1940. She returned to the Top Ten in March with “I Hear a Rhapsody” (music and lyrics by George Fragos, Jack Baker, and Dick Gasparre) and in October with “Jim” (music by Caesar Petrillo and Edward Ross, lyrics by Nelson Shawn). In November she began another 15-minute radio program, Songs by Dinah Shore, which ran through April 1942.

Shore scored four Top Ten hits in 1942, the most successful being “Blues in the Night” (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer), which became a signature song for her. At the end of April she moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as a movie actress, but she maintained her presence on radio, launching another 15-minute music program, In Person, Dinah Shorein May; it ran a year. She had three more Top Ten hits in 1943, notably “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” (music and lyrics by Cole Porter). From June to August she sang on the radio program Paul Whiteman Presents, then in September began her first half-hour series, The Birdseye Open House, which ran for three seasons. She made her movie debut in October with a guest appearance in the all-star feature Thank Your Lucky Stars. On Dec. 5, 1943, she married movie actor George Montgomery. They had one child and adopted another. They were divorced on May 9, 1963.

Shore had her first onscreen acting role as costar with Danny Kaye in Up in Arms, released in March 1944. The next month, she was seen in another all-star film, Follow the Boys, singing “I’ll Walk Alone” (music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sammy Cahn); her recording of the song became her first #1 hit in October. At the end of the year she took another acting role in Belle of the Yukon, singing “Sleigh Ride in July” (music by James Van Heusen, lyrics by Johnny Burke), which became a Top Ten hit for her in February 1945.

She scored two more Top Ten singles in 1945 as well as two Top Ten albums, Gershwin Show Hits in August and Musical Orchids in September. In 1946, the year she moved to Columbia Records, she had seven Top Ten hits, among them “Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy” (music by Guy Wood, lyrics by Sammy Gallop); another signature song for her, the chart-topping “The Gypsy” (music and lyrics by Billy Reid); and “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly,” from the Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun. Though she had largely given up her hopes of movie stardom, her voice was heard in the animated Disney feature Make Mine Music in April and she had a cameo in the Jerome Kern film biography Till the Clouds Roll By in December, singing “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (music by Kern, lyrics by Otto Harbach). In September, having switched sponsors, she was back on radio in The Ford Show, which ran during the 1946–47 season.

Shore had four Top Ten hits in 1947, among them “The Anniversary Song” (music and lyrics by Al Jolson and Saul Chaplin, based on the 1880 waltz “Valurile Dunârii,” by Ion Ivanovici), which hit #1 in March. In September her voice was heard in another animated Disney feature, Fun and Fancy Free. In February 1948 she returned to radio, co-starring with Johnny Mercer and Harry James on Call for Music, which ran through the end of the season. In October she returned as a regular on The Eddie Cantor S/zow, staying for the 1948–49 season.

Shore scored the biggest hit of her career and the biggest hit of 1948 with her recording of “Buttons and Bows” (music and lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans), which hit #1 in November and sold a million copies. She was back in the Top Ten in February 1949 with “Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly)” (music by Eliot Daniel, lyrics by Larry Morey) and again in July in a duet with Buddy Clark on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (music and lyrics by Frank Loesser). Her recording of “Dear Hearts and Gentle People” (music by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Bob Hilliard) peaked in the Top Ten in January 1950.

Based in N.Y. in 1950, Shore had an extended engagement at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, one of her few nightclub appearances, and she made her network television debut as a guest on Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the Town series. In April she became a regular on the 15-minute weekday radio series The Jack Smith Show, staying on the program until December 1952. In the fall of 1950 she switched from Columbia Records back to RCA Victor and quickly scored several hits. “My Heart Cries for You” (music and lyrics by Carl Sigman and Percy Faith) peaked in the Top Ten in January 1951. That same month she joined the Broadway cast of Call Me Madam on the cast album, replacing the show’s star, Ethel Merman, who was contracted to another label; the result was a Top Ten LP. She then duetted with Tony Martin on “A Penny a Kiss” (music and lyrics by Buddy Kaye and Ralph Care), which hit the Top Ten in March. She scored her final Top Ten hit with “Sweet Violets” (music and lyrics by Cy Cohen and Charles Grean, adapted from a traditional folk song) in August.

In November 1951, Shore first launched The Dinah Shore Show as a live, 15-minute television program following the nightly news on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She continued in this format for six years, until July 1957. She returned to film in April 1952, starring in Aaron Slick from Punkin Creek. The Dinah Shore Show went back on radio in March 1953, running until July 1955; during the 1954–55 season it was a simulcast of the television show. In March 1955 she won the 1954 Emmy Award for Best Female Singer, repeating in the same category the following year. She continued to record for RCA Victor and reached the Top 40 with “Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets)” (music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross) in May 1955 and with “Love and Marriage” (music by James Van Heusen, lyrics by Sammy Cahn) in December 1955.

Starting in October 1956, Shore hosted a one-hour version of The Dinah Shore Show on television Friday nights once a month. The following year the show moved to Sunday nights and ran weekly for the next six seasons, through May 1963. In March 1957 she reached the Top 40 for the last time with “Chantez-Chantez” (music by Irving Fields, lyrics by Albert Gamse). That same month she won an Emmy for the third straight year, this one awarded for Best Female Personality—Continuing Performance. She won again in 1958 and 1959.

Shore moved to Capitol Records by 1959, but despite some impressive recordings, notably the 1960 LP Dinah Sings, Previn Plays, with André Previn, she stopped having hits and left the label in 1962, after which she recorded infrequently. In 1963, following the end of her television series and her first marriage, she married contractor and professional tennis player Maurice Fabian Smith on May 26. They were divorced on Aug. 21, 1964. For the rest of the 1960s she made occasional appearances on television but was otherwise professionally inactive. In August 1970 she returned to television on a regular basis with Dinah’s Place, a half-hour daytime talk show. She received her sixth Emmy Award when the show won for Outstanding Program Achievement in Daytime for the 1972–73 season and her seventh as Best Host or Hostess in a Talk, Service, or Variety Series for the 1973–74 season. During this period she had a long-term relationship with actor Burt Reynolds, though the two never married and later separated.

When Dinah’s Place went off network television at the end of the 1973–74 season, Shore turned to syndication and launched Dinah!, a 90-minute program that included more musical performances. She won her eighth Emmy Award as Outstanding Host or Hostess in a Talk, Service, or Variety Series for the 1975–76 season. She returned to network television for the summer of 1976 with the variety series Dinah and Her New Best Friends. She had two small parts in films, Oh, God! (1977) and H.E.A.L.T.H.(1979). In 1979 she retitled her show Dinah! & Friends and brought on a co-host each week. The show ended in 1980. She turned to live performances in 1981 for the first time since 1950. In 1989 her new talk show, A Conversation with Dinah, premiered on the TNN cable network, running through 1991. She died of cancer at 76 in 1994.

Writings

Someone’s in the Kitchen with D.(1971); The D. S. Cookbook (N.Y., 1983).

Bibliography

B. Cassiday, D.!: A Biography (N.Y., 1979).

—William Ruhlmann

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