Dinah Shore

Born

  • March 1, 1917 *
  • Winchester, TN

Died

  • February 24, 1994
  • Beverly Hills, CA

Real Name

  • Frances Rose Shore

Marriages

  • George Montgomery (1943-62)
  • Maurice Smith (1963-64)

*Some sources list her birthdate as February 29, 1916

Dinah Shore

Though best remembered today as a television personality, Dinah Shore was also a well-known singer during the golden age of American pop music. Born in Winchester, Tennessee, and raised in Nashville, Fanny Shore launched her professional career at the age of fourteen, singing at a local night club. During her college years she worked her way through school singing on Nashville radio station WSM, where she had her own program, Our Little Cheerleader of Song. For her theme she chose the blues number ''Dinah,'' made popular by Ethel Waters. During that time she also worked with Nashville orchestra leader Beasley Smith.

Graduating with a degree in sociology from Vanderbilt University she moved to New York in 1938 to pursue a singing career. She struggled for six months before landing her first paying job. Her name was changed after auditioning for station WNEW when the station manager forgot and called her by the name of her audition number, ''Dinah.'' She didn't get the job but was offered the chance to sing whenever there was time to be filled, during which she was introduced as ''Dinah'' Shore.

After more failed auditions, including one for Ben Bernie's popular radio program, she received her first big break in January of 1939 when she was hired to sing with Leo Reisman's orchestra for one night at the Strand Theater. Soon after she sang briefly with Peter Dean's orchestra and was hired by Xavier Cugat to record a song with his group.

Though these were short-term opportunities, the recognition she received from them helped her land radio jobs, and in the summer of that year she was offered a contract with RCA Victor. In 1940 NBC employed her for a two-month stint on The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street radio program. The show became a huge success, and Dinah was hired by Eddie Cantor to sing on his program. It was Cantor's show that helped launch her to national stardom. She soon had her own radio program, a slew of hit songs, including her most famous, ''Blues in the Night,'' and a film contract with Warner Brothers.

Though she made several films, her movie career never really took off, and she turned to television instead. In 1951 she became the first woman to host her own variety program, The Dinah Shore Show, a fifteen minute-long affair that aired twice a week on NBC through 1956. Her association with NBC continued until 1974, with the hour-long Dinah Shore Chevy Show, that aired between 1956 and 1963, and the thirty-minute Dinah's Place, which began in 1970 and lasted until 1974. From 1974 to 1980 she starred in the ninety-minute syndicated program Dinah!. In 1976 she also appeared in the short-lived Dinah and Her New Best Friends. Her last television series was A Conversation with Dinah, which aired from 1989 to 1991 on TNN.

She continued to make recordings into the 1960s. In 1972 she sponsored a women's professional golf tournament, the first important money-winning tournament for female golfers. During the 1970s she also became famous for her romance with actor Bert Reynolds, many years her junior. Dinah Shore died from cancer in 1994.