- Birth name:
- Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton
- Date of Birth:
- 22 September 1914 New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
- 5' 5" (1.65 m)
Dorothy Lamour was born with the birth name of Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton on December 10, 1914, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was a beautiful child who turned heads as a teenager with her long dark hair. However, her dream was to become a professional singer not actress. After she won a beauty contest as Miss New Orleans in 1931, she headed to Chicago to find her work as a singer. For a time, Dorothy worked as an elevator operator in a department store before going on to become a vocalist in the Herbie Kay band. Kay became her first husband in 1935, but the marriage only lasted four years. In addition to the band, Dorothy also sang on a Chicago radio program. Besides Kay, she performed with Rudy Vallee and 'Eddie Duchin (I)'. 1933 found Dorothy in Hollywood where she landed an uncredited bit part as a chorus girl in the musical Footlight Parade (1933). She didn't appear in films again until 1936 when she landed a part as a coed in College Holiday (1936). Later in 1936, Dorothy got the part of Ulah in The Jungle Princess (1936) produced by E. Lloyd Sheldon and filmed at Paramount. This film was a tremendous moneymaker as Dorothy stole the show in her wrap-around sarong. Dorothy became an instant star as the child of nature/female Tarzan, raised with a pet tiger among the tropical natives. Ray Milland starred opposite her as the man from civilization who woos and wins her. The scene where Milland is trying to teach her the word kiss is touching yet humorous. When he kisses her and tells her that is a kiss she runs away.She went on to play similar parts in the sarong in productions including The Hurricane (1937), Typhoon (1940), Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942) and her final big-screen sarong feature, Donovan's Reef (1963). Although Dorothy actually only wore a sarong in six of her 59 pictures, it defined her career. The sarong stayed with her in the Bob Hope / Bing Crosby "Road" pictures for Paramount. The trio starred in Road to Singapore (1940), Road to Zanzibar (1941), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1946) and Road to Bali (1952). A final "Road" picture, "Road to the Fountain of Youth" was in the works in 1977, until Bing Crosby's sudden death. The final completed "Road" picture, The Road to Hong Kong (1962), had Hope and Crosby in their usual roles, but no Dorothy this time - Joan Collins had the female lead in it.Dorothy was a great actress with roles in Disputed Passage (1939), Dixie (1943) and On Our Merry Way (1948)_ . She could show great range in both comic and dramatic roles. After making three films in 1949, her career began to trail off. She only made ten films between 1951 and 1987. That last one was Creepshow 2 (1987) where she played a housewife who gets murdered, a long way from the "Road" pictures and movies such as Johnny Apollo (1940) and A Medal for Benny (1945).Dorothy died at 81 of an undisclosed ailment on September 22, 1996 in Los Angeles, California.