Lamour, Dorothy (1914-1996)

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Lamour, Dorothy (1914-1996)

Born Mary Kaumeyer in New Orleans, the curvaceous brunette Dorothy Lamour was treasured for her trademark sarong (which she first wore in her debut film, The Jungle Princess (1936) and her combination of sultriness and breezy good humor. She enjoyed a long career under contract (with the usual loanouts) to Paramount, draped in that sarong in numerous South Sea romances, including John Ford's The Hurricane (1937) and Aloma of the South Seas (1941), but is forever remembered as the bone of contention between Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in six "Road" films, beginning with Road to Singapore in 1940 and ending with Road to Bali in 1952. (She was replaced by Joan Collins in Road to Hong Kong [1962], but briefly appeared as herself). Before beginning her movie career, Lamour worked as an elevator operator and was Miss New Orleans (1931) before becoming a band vocalist (for her first husband, bandleader Herbie Kaye) and radio performer. Much loved by audiences and her peers, she made over 50 movies, including Rouben Mamoulian's High, Wide and Handsome (1937), in which she played a saloon singer; a role as Tyrone Power's girlfriend in Johnny Apollo (1940); she danced the Can-Can in Slightly French (1949); and donned star-spangled tights for The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). Thereafter she made a handful of cameo screen appearances, but took to the stage in 1951 and made her Broadway debut in 1958 in Oh! Captain. In 1961, Lamour toured with her own nightclub act and later with the musicals DuBarry Was a Lady (1963) and Hello, Dolly! (1967). During the 1950s, she made several guest appearances on television shows such as The Colgate Comedy Hour and Damon Runyon Theatre. She published her autobiography in 1980.

—Bianca Freire-Medeiros

Further Reading:

Lamour, Dorothy. My Side of the Road. London, Robson, 1981.

Mielke, Randall G. Road to Box Office: The Seven Film Comedies of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, 1940-1962. Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland & Co., 1997.

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Lamour, Dorothy (1914-1996)

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