Lynn, Diana (1926–1971)

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Lynn, Diana (1926–1971)

American actress and pianist. Name variations: performed briefly as Dolly Loehr. Born Delores Loehr on October 7, 1926, in Los Angeles, California; died in a Los Angeles hospital after suffering a stroke and brain hemorrhage on December 18, 1971; only daughter ofLouis Loehr (an executive in an oil company); educated on the lot of Paramount Studio; married John C. Lindsay (an architect), on January 5, 1948 (divorced 1953); married Mortimer Hall; children: four.


They Shall Have Music (1939); There's Magic in Music (The Hard-Boiled Canary, 1941); Star-Spangled Rhythm (1942); The Major and the Minor (1942); Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour (1943); The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944); And the Angels Sing (1944); Henry Aldrich Plays Cupid (1944); Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (1944); Out of This World (1945); Duffy's Tavern (1945); Our Hearts Were Growing Up (1946); The Bride Wore Boots (1946); Easy Come, Easy Go (1947); Variety Girl (1947); Ruthless (1948); Texas Brooklyn and Heaven (1948); Every Girl Should Be Married (1948); My Friend Irma (1949); Paid in Full (1950); My Friend Irma Goes West (1950); Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950); Peggy (1950); Bedtime for Bonzo (1951); The People Against O'Hara (1951); Meet Me at the Fair (1953); Plunder of the Sun (1953); Track of the Cat (1954); An Annapolis Story (1955); You're Never Too Young (1955); The Kentuckian (1955); Company of Killer (The Protectors, originally made for television, 1970).

Diana Lynn was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1926. A musical prodigy, she began playing the piano professionally at age 10 and was taken to the Paramount lot at age 13 to accompany a child violinist who was auditioning. Lynn stayed on to play the piano in two films, They Shall Have Music (1939) and There's Magic in Music (1941), though she was given little in the way of dialogue. In 1941, she signed a long-term contract with the studio, and after some intense dramatic coaching, she made her acting debut as Ginger Rogers ' bratty roommate in The Major and the Minor (1942), directed by Billy Wilder. Her next effort, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), in which she played the kid sister of Betty Hutton , brought favorable notices from the critics and led to a string of "kid sister" and young adult roles, the best of which was Emily in Our Hearts Were Young And Gay (1944), based on the book by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough . "The ever-breathless, slightly madcap Miss Lynn is capital in everything she does," enthused Variety of her performance. The success of the picture inspired the mediocre sequel, Our Hearts Were Growing Up (1946).

While her star was rising, Lynn was more concerned with her approaching 18th birthday. "I won't have to have a teacher following everywhere in the studio, even into make-up and hair-dressing," she told Eileen Creelman in an interview for the New York Sun. "I was fond of my teacher. But it's not a pleasant feeling not to be allowed to be alone. That's the law. They have to watch you every minute. But I'll be eighteen next month."

As she matured into a leading lady, Lynn's assignments were typical ingenue roles in a variety of films, notably the young friend of Marie Wilson in My Friend Irma (1949) and its sequel, My Friend Irma Goes West (1950). During the 1950s, Lynn's film career began to wane, and she turned more and more to the stage, performing in stock and with the La Jolla (California) Players. In 1952, she appeared opposite Maurice Evans in the New York City Center's production of Ibsen's The Wild Duck, and in 1953 played opposite Sir Cedric Hardwicke in Horses in Midstream. Lynn also made regular appearances on the emerging medium of television. In addition to guest appearances with variety show hosts Jack Carter, Ken Murray, Milton Berle,

and Ed Wynn, she signed an exclusive contract with the Schlitz Playhouse. "In TV she has not only had a happy variety of romantic and comedy parts," noted Life, "but has played an entire concerto composed for her." Lynn had a more practical view of her television success. "More cab drivers recognize me now that I'm in TV than they ever did when I was only in movies," she observed. The actress was attempting a film comeback when she died of a stroke in 1971.


Current Biography. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1953.

Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. NY: Harper-Collins, 1994.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts