Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Road to Oblivion

The woman that you see here was named Dorothy Lamour when she was in the movies. She was named Mary Dorothy Slaton when she was born way down yonder in New Orleans in 1914. Her parents broke up when she was just a wee one. Fortunately for her, her mother remarried a man by the name of Lambour, which was a name easy to change to something that sounds just like the French word for love ("l'amour.") Following the route to stardom taken by so many good-looking people over the years, she won a beauty contest and hit the road to the big time, a road that took her through Chicago (the Windy City), New York (The Big Apple), Hollywood (Land of Dreams) and finally, my boyhood neighborhood (Land of Landed Gentry.)

You can read all about it here, how she married a local businessman and moved in down the street a bit and off the main road, to Huntsman Rd. At 12 or whatever I was, her presence in the 'hood hardly caused the stir with me and my posse that would have ensued had, say, Sandra Dee moved in. Ms Lamour's younger stepson was in my grade at junior high, and he was far from a popular lad, owing mainly to his annoying speech habit of starting every sentence with, "Well, my stepmother is Dorothy Lamour and she..." Bang Zoom! A kid in my class, fella named King ( for real! first name! oh it was a regal neighborhood!) popped him right on the beezer after a couple of weeks, and after that he become more like one of us, just with a sore nose.

The local papers got all into the frenzy for a minute, with articles about Hollywood Royalty Moving In and pictures of her chomping on a hot dog while riding in the aging Studebaker of her older stepson, Ridge, who joined the local fire company for a spell.

The times being as they were, the daily activities of current, future and former movie stars, television performers, musicians, singers, and carnival sideshow attractions were not chronicled on fourteen daily 30-minute shows, as we enjoy now. It was actually possible to be still thought of as a pretty big deal in "the biz," although, if you've finished reading the Wikipedia article and have rejoined us, already in progress, you see a ten-year gap when Tinseltown was not hoisting her name on too many marquees. Besides occasional glimpses of riding in automobiles, my main memory of living in proximity with a woman who wore a sarong (and what sarong with that?) in movies with Bob
Hope and Der Bingle was walking in to the Food Fair at Towson Plaza on that freezing day in 1966 when Walt Disney "drew" his last breath. Ms Lamour was on the pay phone in the Food Fair, making a long distance call to the Coast to try to get in touch with someone who would accept her condolences on the passing of the creator of Mickey Mouse. Had some film producer been on hand to see her emote that day, right there by the rental rug shampooers and free-for-nothing sales pamphlets, she would have once again starred a movie and my little neighborhood would have been bereft of the glitz and glamour in which most of us didn't even know we were luxuriating.

1 comment:

Ralph said...

How sad she was reduced to making the call from a grocery store pay phone? Or was she showing off?