Obituary: Dinah Shore

Frances Rose Shore (Dinah Shore), singer, actress: born Winchester, Tennessee 1 March 1917; married George Montgomery (one son, one daughter; marriage dissolved 1962), 1963 Maurice F. Smith (marriage dissolved 1964); died Los Angeles 24 February 1994.

'A SINGER who lights a fire by rubbing two notes together'. Thus was the 23-year-old Dinah Shore introduced on The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street, a 1940 radio show. The sultry-voiced newcomer from Tennessee went on to become one of the United States' most enduringly popular recording stars and television personalities.

Her professional singing career began in 1938 at WNEW, a New York radio station, where she sang for nothing. Like Frank Sinatra, who was also singing there gratis, she stepped in whenever an appropriate musical 'filler' was needed. Unlike Sinatra (and her rivals Peggy Lee, Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald), Shore didn't graduate from a big band; she was turned down by Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Woody Herman, but made her recording debut in 1939, singing with Xavier Cugat's orchestra. (On the label she was billed as 'Dinah Shaw'.) Next came her Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street appearances, after which Eddie Cantor signed her for his radio series. Shore was Jewish, and found ideal material in 'Yes, My Darling Daughter', adapted from a Yiddish folk song. Introduced on Cantor's show, it became her first best-

selling record. The first of her nine million-sellers was 'Blues in the Night' (1941).

In 1943 she married the actor George Montgomery, then serving in the US Army. They had met at the Hollywood Canteen, where Shore sang regularly. Throughout the war she entertained servicemen all over the world. 'There's nothing to compare with the enthusiasm of those GIs,' she told me in a radio interview. 'You don't find that much applause lying around loose for the rest of your life]'

In 1946, shortly after signing with Columbia Records, she was given the novelty number 'Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy' to record. She found the song ludicrous, especially as shoo-fly pie is a southern dessert and apple pan dowdy a New England one. To her amazement, the record sold 40,000 copies, and was swiftly followed by three million-sellers: 'The Gypsy', 'Doin' What Comes Natur'lly' and 'For Sentimental Reasons'. Billboard proclaimed her Top Female Vocalist of 1946.

Shore's film career had begun with Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), in which she played herself. No more demanding were her roles in Follow the Boys and Belle of the Yukon (both 1944). She got to clown a little and sing 'Tess's Torch Song' and 'Now I Know' in Danny Kaye's first film, Up in Arms (also 1944), and never photographed better than in the fictionalised Jerome Kern biopic Till the Clouds Roll By (1946). She lent her voice to two Disney cartoon features, Make Mine Music (1946) and Fun and Fancy Free (1947). Her best screen performance was in Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick (1951), but that musical was so disastrous that she didn't film again for 26 years.

She hardly needed to; 1951 was also the year she entered television. Variety wrote that she had 'a charm and ease that established her right off as one of TV's standout personalities'. A minority view was expressed by Oscar Levant, who found her too effusive. 'My doctor won't let me watch Dinah,' he claimed. 'I'm a diabetic.'

Her television success (she won 10 Emmy Awards in all) caused a career clash with George Montgomery, and they were divorced in 1962. In 1963 Shore married a building contractor, but the marriage was over by 1964. She retired for five years to devote herself to two children from her first marriage, returning to television in 1970 as a talk show hostess in Dinah's Place. One of her guests was Burt Reynolds, with whom she began a long, tabloid-titillating relationship.

She was seen again on the cinema screen in the George Burns comedy Oh God] (1977) and in Robert Altman's HEALTH (1979). From 1989 to 1991 she presented the talk show Conversation with Dinah.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor