Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys here today to note that Dorothy Lamour’s name lives on today in unlikely places.
It appears that J.Edgar Hoover and Lamour’s paths crossed in the early Forties when she was between marriages and busily selling World War II bonds. (That’s them in the picture above.) He was single, and she was ripe, beautiful, church going and patriotic.
In Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, the director’s absorbing biopic of the legendary FBI chief (starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role), there’s a key scene well into the picture that is set in motion by Hoover’s mention of the great star of the 1940’s.
What follows are probably the movie’s most explosive moments about which we will say little (no spoilers here) other than the fact that Hoover’s naming of Lamour as a marital possibility did not sit well with his close associate, Clyde Tolson (portrayed by Armie Hammer). Below is a photo of Hoover and Tolson
For more, go see J. Edgar.
Talk of Lamour prompted us to revisit our blogs about the star of the 1940s. Joe met Lamour a few decades ago, after co-authoring “The Amazing Careers of Bob Hope.”
Joe’s pal Ward Grant (Hope’s publicist), said that Hope’s (and Bing Crosby’s) longtime onscreen pal, Dorothy Lamour, wanted to meet him to discuss a book project of her own. Interesting idea but Joe had reservations and other projects to attend to.
Besides back in 1980, Lamour came out with her autobiography, “My Side of the Road,” (as told to Dorothy McInnes) that covered most if not all of the bases relating to her life and 59-picture career. Joe figured that, well, that was that. What more could be written about Madame Dorothy?
After all, who would pay to AGAIN read a book about Lamour’s springboard into show business as Miss New Orleans of 1931. Or, that Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton (her given name) was a big band singer married to bandleader Herbie Kay at age 21 (it lasted four years).
Or, that her solid singing career on radio (she performed with the likes of Rudy Vallee) preceded her first Hollywood movie, an un-credited bit as a chorus girl in the 1933 JimmyCagney musical, “Footlight Parade.”
Or, that 1936’s “Jungle Princess” introduced the world to Dorothy’s signature sarong. (Say what you will, there’ no denying Dorothy looked smashing in the garment.)
And, while she was dogged by the darned thing for the rest of her life, the fact is that she wore a sarong in only six of her 59 movies. In a publicity stunt with Freudian overtones, Dorothy once burned a sarong before assembled photographers.
Fully covered certainly in “My Side of the Road” were Dorothy’s adventures with Bing and Bob and the seven “Road To…” movies, which spanned a dozen years beginning in 1940. Although Dorothy was never particularly close to Crosby on a personal level, she and Hope (as well as his wife Delores) remained friends until the end.
Dorothy’s career as a leading actress ended after 1952’s “The Road to Bali.” Ten years later when Dorothy’s career was a fading memory to most movie fans, a final road picture “The Road To Hong Kong” was made with Hope and Crosby. But Joan Collins took the leading lady role, not Dorothy.
The by-then 48-year-old Lamour was incensed by what she regarded as a casting affront, and took her case to Hollywood columnist, Louella Parsons. To placate Dorothy the studio carved out a cameo in “Hong Kong” in which she played herself.
The upside of all this was that Dorothy’s appearance in the movie drew the attention of none other than director John Ford, who a year later cast her in a supporting role in“Donovan’s Reef,” an action vehicle for John Wayne and Lee Marvin. And this movie appearance in turn led to some late-Sixties stage work.
Whatever Joe’s reservations about another Lamour book, Dorothy wanted to meet him and kept after Ward Grant to arrange a meeting. Finally Joe agreed.