Dorothy Lamour


Actor
Dorothy Lamour

About

Also Known As
Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton
Birth Place
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Born
December 10, 1914
Died
September 22, 1996

Biography

Few Golden Age actresses looked better in a sarong than Dorothy Lamour, but the New Orleans native had more to offer the entertainment world than just her striking multinational beauty. She began her entertainment career as a singer and it was in that capacity that she first attracted the attention of Hollywood. Lamour found early fame in the adventure yarns "The Jungle Princess" (1936)...

Photos & Videos

The Fleet's In - Movie Posters
The Hurricane - Lobby Cards
Road to Utopia - Lobby Cards

Family & Companions

Herbie Kaye
Husband
Bandleader. First husband, married 1935-39.
William Ross Howard III
Husband
Businessman. Married from 1943 until his death in 1978.

Bibliography

"Dorothy Lamour"
Dorothy Lamour with Dick McInnes (1981)

Notes

She took her stage name from her stepfather whose last name was Lambour.

Biography

Few Golden Age actresses looked better in a sarong than Dorothy Lamour, but the New Orleans native had more to offer the entertainment world than just her striking multinational beauty. She began her entertainment career as a singer and it was in that capacity that she first attracted the attention of Hollywood. Lamour found early fame in the adventure yarns "The Jungle Princess" (1936) and "The Hurricane" (1937), and proved to be an appealing romantic interest for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in "Road to Singapore" (1940). The success of the latter launched a popular series of "Road" movies and Lamour soon found herself known as "The Sarong Girl," even though she only sported one in six of her more than 50 films. She proved to be a capable dramatic performer in efforts like Johnny Apollo" (1940) and "A Medal for Benny" (1945) and was also a hugely popular WWII pin-up girl, yet usually still managed to seem a wholesome and socially acceptable object of desire for the hero. After starting a family, Lamour's output slowed, though she kept her hand in showbiz via both big and small screen appearances and a latter day Broadway debut in the cast of "Oh Captain!" (1958). Audiences gravitated towards Lamour most warmly when she was cast in comedic pictures, but her proven facility in other sorts of roles and notable abilities as a singer demonstrated that she was a lady of considerable talents.

Dorothy Lamour hailed from New Orleans, LA and was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton on Dec. 10, 1914. A native French speaker, she was revealed to be a natural singer at a young age and French/Spanish/Scotch/Irish roots gave her a unique look that earned her much attention. After leaving high school at age 15, she studied typing with the goal of becoming a secretary. However, that career path was soon forgotten after Lamour won the Miss New Orleans contest. She and her now-single mother relocated to Chicago, IL, where the teenager initially toiled as an elevator operator. Lamour's fine singing voice earned her an invitation to join the Herbie Kaye Band and she eventually made her way to New York City, performing in both nightclubs and on radio with Rudy Vallee. While appearing at the Clover Club in Los Angeles, she was spotted by a rep from Paramount Pictures and asked to take a screen test. The studio was impressed by her looks and potential, so Lamour was signed on as a contract player. By mid-decade, she was hosting her own 15-minute radio program and had taken Herbie Kaye as her husband, a union that would last until 1939. The actress' first starring role was as the titular character in "The Jungle Princess" (1936), which played out like a female variation on the "Tarzan" formula. The film was a success and Samuel Goldwyn borrowed Lamour for the female lead in John Ford's epic "The Hurricane" (1937). The big-budget South Seas adventure was also a hit, fully establishing its leading lady as the latest glamorous sensation. Publicity photos featured Lamour modeling flower print sarongs and with her lovely face and long black hair, she was soon tagged "The Sarong Girl."

That image helped earn her the female lead in "Road to Singapore" (1940), the first in what turned out to be a series of enjoyable comedies starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby as old friends in all manner of trouble in exotic locales. Acting as both object of desire and straight woman, Lamour managed to hold her own amidst the duo's relentless ad-libbing and was a vital component in the first five of the six "Road" sequels that followed. She also proved herself capable of dramatic duties via her performances in the crime thriller "Johnny Apollo" (1940) and "Chad Hanna" (1940), the latter of which cast the actress as circus trick rider. Pin-ups girls like Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth were all the rage during this time, and Lamour also enjoyed much notoriety in this arena, with a shot of her lounging in a sarong proving especially popular. Her marriage to Kaye ended in divorce after he charged desertion and there was a widely circulated rumor that she was seeing J. Edgar Hoover. That liaison would be discounted in later years as one of the fronts used to hide Hoover's alleged relationship with F.B.I. colleague Clyde Tolson. Whatever the case, Lamour wed her second husband, businessman William Ross Howard III, in 1943 and the couple ultimately spent more than three decades together. In addition to her power as a box office draw, the tireless Lamour was credited with raising more than $300 million for the war effort, earning the actress a second nickname: The Bond Bombshell!

Temporarily breaking away from Paramount's "Road" series, Lamour and Bob Hope were borrowed by Samuel Goldwyn for the comic spy yarn "They Got Me Covered" (1943), while "Riding High" (1943) paired her with veteran song-and-dance man Dick Powell. The story of how an indolent man is elevated in the eyes of others following his death in combat, "A Medal for Benny" (1945) featured one of Lamour's strongest dramatic turns, but none of these pictures generated the response regularly enjoyed by the "Road" movies, which were quickly becoming one of the most popular series in movie history. In between her film commitments, Lamour continued to perform on radio, including a run as hostess of the musical-comedy program "The Sealtest Variety Theater" (NBC, 1946-49), which featured such entertainment heavyweights as Hope, James Stewart, and Gregory Peck on its guest list. Back on the silver screen, she joined Hope again in his solo vehicle "My Favorite Brunette" (1947) and essayed the title role in the period drama "Lulu Belle" (1948). After co-starring with Sterling Hayden in the film noir thriller "Manhandled" (1949), Lamour stepped out of the spotlight to devote time to her husband and two sons. She returned in Cecil B. DeMille's Oscar-winning epic "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1952) and also made occasional television appearances on programs like "Four Star Revue" (NBC, 1950-53), but kept a much lighter schedule than before. Later in the decade, Lamour made her Broadway debut as a replacement for original performer Abbe Lane in the musical comedy "Oh Captain!" (1958).

At the beginning of the 1960s, Lamour received stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her film and radio work, and headlined her own nightclub act. Joan Collins took over the female lead for the final "Road" entry, "The Road to Hong Kong" (1962), though Lamour cameoed as herself. She also essayed parts in the John Wayne picture "Donovan's Reef" (1963) and the American International drive-in comedy "Pajama Party" (1964), and returned to the stage in "DuBarry Was a Lady," the national touring company of "Hello, Dolly!" and a dinner theatre production of "Personal Appearance." Her small-screen credits of the time included a role alongside fellow vets John Carradine and Joan Blondell in the made-for-television mystery-thriller "Death at Love House" (ABC, 1976). During this period, there was talk of reuniting Lamour, Hope and Crosby for a new "Road" outing, but plans were quietly cancelled following the latter's death in 1977 and Lamour suffered another loss when her husband passed away the following year. She embarked on an autobiography and My Side of the Road hit bookstore shelves in 1980. The horror anthology "Creepshow 2" (1987) was Lamour's final film and a guest turn that same year on "Murder, She Wrote" (CBS, 1984-1996) represented her last small-screen credit. In 1995, she served as special advisor for the "Road to" sequence in the Broadway musical "Swinging on a Star." Lamour succumbed to the effects of a heart attack on Sept. 22, 1996.

By John Charles

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Entertaining the Troops (1989)
Herself
Creepshow 2 (1987)
Death at Love House (1976)
The Phynx (1970)
Pajama Party (1964)
Head saleslady
Donovan's Reef (1963)
Fleur
The Road to Hong Kong (1962)
Herself
Road to Bali (1953)
Princess Lalah MacTavish
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
Phyllis
Here Comes the Groom (1951)
Herself
Manhandled (1949)
Merl Kramer
Slightly French (1949)
Mary O'Leary, also known as Rochelle Olivier
The Lucky Stiff (1949)
Anna Marie St. Claire
On Our Merry Way (1948)
Gloria Manners
Lulu Belle (1948)
Lulu Belle
The Girl from Manhattan (1948)
Carol Maynard
Wild Harvest (1947)
Fay Rankin
My Favorite Brunette (1947)
Carlotta Montay
Road to Rio (1947)
Lucia Maria de Andrade
Variety Girl (1947)
Masquerade in Mexico (1946)
Angel O'Reilly, also known as Condessa de Costa Mora
Road to Utopia (1946)
Sal Van Heusen
A Medal for Benny (1945)
Lolita Sierra
Duffy's Tavern (1945)
Rainbow Island (1944)
Lona
And the Angels Sing (1944)
Nancy Angel
Star Spangled Rhythm (1943)
Herself, "A Sweater, Sarong and a Peek-A-Boo Bang" number
Dixie (1943)
Millie Cook
They Got Me Covered (1943)
Christina Hill
Riding High (1943)
Ann Castle
Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942)
Tama
The Fleet's In (1942)
The Countess
Road to Morocco (1942)
Princess Shalmar
Caught in the Draft (1941)
Tony Fairbanks
Aloma of the South Seas (1941)
Aloma
Road to Zanzibar (1941)
Donna Latour
Johnny Apollo (1940)
"Lucky" Dubarry
Chad Hanna (1940)
Albany Yates
Road to Singapore (1940)
Mima
Typhoon (1940)
Dea
Moon over Burma (1940)
Arla Dean
Man About Town (1939)
Diana Wilson
Disputed Passage (1939)
Audrey Hilton [Lan Ying]
Saint Louis Blues (1939)
Norma Malone
Thrill of a Lifetime (1938)
Specialty
Tropic Holiday (1938)
Manuela
Her Jungle Love (1938)
Tura
The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
Dorothy Wyndham
Spawn of the North (1938)
Nicky Duval
Swing High, Swing Low (1937)
Anita Alvarez
The Last Train from Madrid (1937)
Carmelita Castillo
The Hurricane (1937)
Marama
High, Wide and Handsome (1937)
Molly
The Jungle Princess (1936)
Ulah
The Stars Can't Be Wrong (1936)

Music (Feature Film)

Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)
Song Performer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Entertaining the Troops (1989)
Other

Cast (Special)

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (1994)
Bob Hope: The First Ninety Years (1993)
Stars and Stripes: Hollywood and World War II (1991)
Bob Hope & Friends: Making New Memories (1991)
47th Annual Golden Globes (1989)
Performer
The 61st Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1989)
Performer
Happy Birthday, Bob -- 50 Stars Salute Your 50 Years With NBC (1988)
Happy Birthday, Hollywood! (1987)
Remembering Bing (1987)
Host
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's Road to Hollywood (1983)
Guest
Legends of the Screen (1983)
Guest
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's Women I Love - Beautiful but Funny (1982)
Bob Hope Special: Happy Birthday, Bob! (1978)
The Arthur Murray Party For Bob Hope (1960)
Guest

Cast (Short)

Hollywood Handicap (1938)
Herself

Life Events

1931

Voted Miss New Orleans

1936

Achieved instant star status with her debut appearance in Paramount's "Jungle Princess"

1938

First film with Bob Hope, "The Big Broadcast of 1938"

1940

First "Road" picture with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, "The Road to Singapore"

1942

Appeared with Paulette Goddard and Veronica Lake in the all-star musical revue "Star Spangled Rhythm", singing a song which parodied aspects of their star images: "A Sweater, a Sarong, and a Peek-a-Boo Bang"

1949

Last starring vehicle for Paramount, "Manhandled"

1952

Played supporting star or guest star roles in two early 1950s films, but left films for a decade after playing opposite Hope and Crosby in "The Road to Bali"

1962

Returned to films to play a cameo role in "The Road to Hong Kong", starring Hope and Crosby

1987

Made final film appearance in "Creepshow 2"

1989

Appeared in the documentary film, "Entertaining the Troops"

1991

Performed onstage as narrator and singer in the Stephen Sondheim revue, "Side by Side by Sondheim" at the Grand Hotel in Anaheim, CA

Photo Collections

The Fleet's In - Movie Posters
The Fleet's In - Movie Posters
The Hurricane - Lobby Cards
The Hurricane - Lobby Cards
Road to Utopia - Lobby Cards
Here are some Lobby Cards from Paramount's Road to Utopia (1946), starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Road to Morocco - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Paramount's Road to Morocco (1942), starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
My Favorite Brunette - Lobby Card
Here is a Lobby Card from My Favorite Brunette (1947), starring Bob Hope. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

High, Wide And Handsome (1937) - The Things I Want Our first look at Dorothy Lamour as singer Molly (working at her Paramount home, age 22, months before her star-making performance in the Samuel Goldwyn/John Ford spectacle The Hurricane), with a song written for the picture by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, in 1859 Pennsylvania, with Alan Hale as evil interloping railroad baron Brennan, confronted by our hero, local oil driller Peter (Randolph Scott), High, Wide And Handsome, 1937.
Road To Morocco (1942) - I'm Gonna Be A Pasha! Jeff (Bing Crosby) has gained entry to the palace where he discovers Turkey (Bob Hope) has become the consort of Princess Shalmar (Dorothy Lamour), in the third "Road" movie, Road To Morocco, 1942.
Road To Morocco (1942) - Moonlight Becomes You So Jeff (Bing Crosby) grabs his opportunity to serenade Princess Shalmar (Dorothy Lamour) with Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke's Moonlight Becomes You So, in Road To Morocco, 1942.
Road To Singapore (1940) - Open, Married Life From the opening credits, two sarcastic sailors (Bob Hope as "Ace," Bing Crosby as "Josh") are introduced in the very first scene from the very first "Road" movie, Road To Singapore, 1940, co-starring Dorothy Lamour.
Road To Singapore (1940) - No More Women! Having arrived in the South Seas and sworn off women, Ace (Bob Hope) and Josh (Bing Crosby) meet Mima (Dorothy Lamour) and dance partner Caesar (Anthony Quinn) in the first "road" movie, Road To Singapore, 1940.
Fleet's In, The (1942) - I Remember You Johnny Dorsey's band features regular vocalist Helen O'Connell and guest Dorothy Lamour (as "The Countess") performing "I Remember You" by Johnny Mercer and director Victor Schertzinger in Paramount's The Fleet's In, 1942.
Fleet's In, The (1942) -- Open, Title Song Rousing opening, with Eddie Bracken and William Holden in the ranks, as Barbara Britton performs the title song by Johnny Mercer and director Victor Schertzinger, in Paramount's The Fleet's In, 1942.
Road To Utopia, The - Personality In old Skagway, posing as famous villains they've imprisoned, Chester (Bob Hope) and Duke (Bing Crosby) act casual, and meet Sal (Dorothy Lamour), performing Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke's Personality, in Road To Utopia, 1946.
Road To Utopia, The - We Left You For Dead After credits and an intro by guest narrator Robert Benchley, Chester (Bob Hope) and Sal (Dorothy Lamour) in their golden years, surprised to receive old pal Duke (Bing Crosby) opening Paramount's fourth "Road" picture, Road To Utopia, 1946.
Road To Zanzibar, The - It's Always You Ever-hip, Chuck (Bing Crosby) and Donna (Dorothy Lamour) consider the silliness of music in movies before he delivers "It's Always You" by James Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, in the second in the series, The Road to Zanzibar, 1941.
On Our Merry Way - Opening Credits Most unusual opening credit sequence for United Artists' all-star novelty On Our Merry Way, 1948, produced by co-star Burgess Meredith with Benedict Bogeaus, featuring pals Henry Fonda and James Stewart.
On Our Merry Way - Harry James Is My Idol! Slim (James Stewart) and Lank (Henry Fonda) panic when gifted Gloria (Dorothy Lamour) in her swimsuit makes she clear she can easily win their rigged musical talent contest in On Our Merry Way, 1948.

Trailer

Family

John Watson Slaton
Father
Waiter. Divorced from Lamour's mother.
Carmen Watson Slaton
Mother
Waitress. Divorced from Lamour's father.
William Ross Howard IV
Step-Son
Survived her.
John Ridgely Howard
Son
Survived her.
Richard Thomson Howard
Son
Survived her.

Companions

Herbie Kaye
Husband
Bandleader. First husband, married 1935-39.
William Ross Howard III
Husband
Businessman. Married from 1943 until his death in 1978.

Bibliography

"Dorothy Lamour"
Dorothy Lamour with Dick McInnes (1981)

Notes

She took her stage name from her stepfather whose last name was Lambour.