Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Remember Her?

     She was born in Tennessee on Feb. 29, Leap Year's day in 1916. Her parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia. Her father, Solomon, was a dry goods merchant who, in 1924, opened his own department store in McMinnville, Tenn., southeast of Nashville.

     The young girl, named Frances Rose, contracted polio at the age of two. The treatment at the time was bed rest; so she convalesced at home while her parents supplied their own home-grown intensive care. Fanny Rose survived, but came out of her ordeal with a deformed foot and a slight limp.

     She was a shy child, but she loved to sing, and was encouraged by her mother who had dreamed of becoming an opera star. Her father brought her into his store, where she would sing for customers, and one time, at age 14, she took the stage at a nightclub in Nashville.

     Her mother died unexpectedly of a heart attack when Fanny Rose was 16. She put her singing on hold while she finished high school, where despite a lingering limp she took part in sports and joined the cheerleading squad. She went to Vanderbilt University where she resumed singing, and for at least one summer she traveled to New York to audition for several orchestras and radio stations.

     After graduating from college in 1938, Fanny Rose moved to New York, where she made the rounds of auditions. She landed a job with an orchestra, became a vocalist for WNEW radio, and signed a recording contract with RCA records.

     She became a regular on a number of different radio shows during the 1940s and recorded several Number #1 hits, including "I'll Walk Alone," "Anniversary Song," and "Buttons and Bows."

     She made her first TV appearance in 1949 on "The Ed Wynn Show" and in 1950 made a guest appearance on Bob Hope's first television show. In the meantime, Fanny Rose had picked up another name. In many of her early auditions she sang the popular song "Dinah" and then she recorded a number called "Dinah's Blues." The name stuck, and she became known not as Fanny Rose Shore, but as Dinah Shore.

     In 1951 she scored her own TV show, The Dinah Shore Show. In 1956 she won the first of many Emmys for the show, which was famously sponsored by Chevrolet. The sponsor's jingle "See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet" soon became Dinah Shore's signature song.

     The Dinah Shore Show, under several different formats, ran until 1963. The variety show featured all the top talent of the time, from Ella Fitzgerald to Frank Sinatra to Nat King Cole and Barbra Streisand.

     From 1970 through 1980, Dinah Shore hosted two daytime programs that featured interviews, demonstrations and musical numbers, including some more contemporary acts such as David Bowie and Iggy Pop.

     Dinah Shore was also an avid golfer, and in 1972 helped found the Dinah Shore-Colgate golf tournament, which in its current identity as the Kraft Nabisco Championship remains one of the major golf tournaments on the LPGA tour. The tournament is being played this week in Rancho Mirage, CA.

     Shore was married to actor George Montgomery from 1943 to 1962, and she dated a number of Hollywood luminaries, including a much-publicized romance in the 1970s with the 20-year-younger Burt Reynolds.

     Today Dinah Shore, who died in 1994, is as much remembered for a weekend as she is for her long-ago singing career. The first unofficial Dinah Shore weekend took place in 1986, when women flocked to Palm Springs for the Dinah Shore golf tournament. Primarily a social event, the gathering nevertheless raised money to support human rights and fight the AIDS epidemic.

     The Dinah Shore Weekend -- now known simply as The Dinah -- soon became a platform to mobilize the lesbian community around social issues and humanitarian projects. This year's "largest girl party in the world" takes place in Palm Springs, CA, from April 3 - 7. It features pop sensation Karmin, as well as Havana Brown, Diana King and other musical acts, and comedians Fortune Feimster, Jackie Loeb and others. Participants will also pony up for a celebrity poker tournament, to raise money for the Human Rights Campaign.

     No word on whether 77-year-old Burt Reynolds will make an appearance.

     Dinah Shore sings "Buttons and Bows" her No. 1 hit from 1948.

     And, below, something from Karmin, who's appearing at The Dinah this coming weekend.




Stephen Hayes said...

I always liked Dinah, even though when I was a little kid I thought her name was Dinosaur.

Lorna said...

This brought back memories. I remember the Dinah Shore Show and "See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet..."

MerCyn said...

Had no clue who you were writing about. But I do remember her. As for Karmin...we are from different generations.

June said...

I recall my mother and father squabbling a little when her show would come on. My father loved her because she'd gone overseas during WWII to entertain the troops. I don't think he ever saw her there, but it was the idea. My mother was, I think, a little jealous.

DJan said...

I didn't know Dinah Shore had any physical problems at all. I loved her voice, and it was so nostalgic to remember those days of long ago. And I also didn't know about The Dinah! This is so cool! :-)

Olga said...

I had Dinah Shore and George Montgomery paper dolls.

Anonymous said...

Great site. I was wondering if you would be interested in guest posting on a new retirement site at If interested drop us a line via the contact page.
Thanks Simone

Bob Lowry said...

She was one of my favorite TV personalities when I was growing up. Her "gee-wiz" charm and girl-next-door appeal worked perfectly on television.

Thanks for the memories, Tom!