Dorothy Lamour

Active - 1930 - 1987  |   Born - Dec 10, 1914   |   Died - Sep 21, 1996   |   Genres - Comedy, Romance, Drama

Share on

Biography by AllMovie

American actress/singer Dorothy Lamour graduated from Spencer Business College, after spending a few teen years as an elevator operator in her home town of New Orleans. By 1930, she'd turned her back on the business world and was performing in the Fanchon and Marco vaudeville troupe. In 1931, she became vocalist for the Herbie Kay Band, and soon afterward married (briefly) Kay. In the years just prior to her film debut, Lamour built up a solid reputation as a radio singer, notably on the 1934 series Dreamer of Songs. Paramount Pictures signed Lamour to a contract in 1936, creating an exotic southseas image for the young actress: she wore her fabled sarong for the first time in Jungle Princess (1936), the first of three nonsensical but high-grossing "jungle" films in which the ingenuous island girl asked her leading man what a kiss was. A more prestigious "sarong" role came about in Goldwyn's The Hurricane (1937), wherein Lamour, ever the trouper, withstood tons of water being thrust upon her in the climactic tempest of the film's title. A major star by 1939, Lamour had developed enough onscreen self awareness to amusingly kid her image in St. Louis Blues (1939), in which she played a jaded movie star who balked at playing any more southseas parts. Lamour's latter-day fame was secured in 1940, when she co-starred in Road to Singapore (1940), the first of six "Road" pictures teaming Lamour with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. It represented both a career summit and a downslide: As the "Road" series progressed, Lamour found herself with fewer and fewer comic lines, and by 1952's Road to Bali she was little more than a decorative "straight woman" for Bob and Bing. Very popular with the troops during World War II, Lamour gave selflessly of her time and talent in camp tours, USO shows and bond drives throughout the early 1940s. A tough cookie who brooked no nonsense on the set, Lamour was nonetheless much loved by Paramount casts and crews, many of which remained friends even after the studio dropped her contract in the early 1950s. Occasionally retiring from films during her heyday to devote time to her family, Lamour was out of Hollywood altogether between 1952 and 1962, during which time she developed a popular nightclub act. She returned to films for Hope and Crosby's Road to Hong Kong (1962), not as leading lady (that assignment was given to Joan Collins) but as a special guest star -- this time she was allowed as many joke lines as her co-stars in her one scene. More on stage than on film in the 1960s and 1970s, Lamour was one of several veteran actresses to star in Hello Dolly, and spent much of her time in regional productions of such straight plays as Barefoot in the Park. She took on a few film and television roles in the '70s and '80s, participated in many Bob Hope TV birthday specials, and was the sprightly subject of an interview conducted by Prof. Richard Brown on cable's American Movie Classics channel. Dorothy Lamour passed away in her North Hollywood, California home in 1996 at the age of 81.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography