Birthday: 1915-01-30 · Known For: Acting
Born Dorothy Dell Goff in Hattiesburg, Mississippi to entertainers, she moved with the family to New Orleans, Louisiana, at age 13. She was born into a socially prominent family, and her mother was a descendant of Jefferson Davis. Initially desiring to become a singer, she was discovered by composer Wesley Lord, and soon signed a radio contract. She began entering and winning beauty pageants and at the age of 17 won the title of "Miss New Orleans" in 1930. That same year she attended the International Pageant of Pulchritude in Galveston, Texas, and won the title of Miss Universe (not to be confused with the later Miss Universe founded in 1952). With this success, she established a successful vaudeville act. Although she had received better offers, she decided to enter the vaudeville circuit, because she believed it would enable her to help her friend Dorothy Lamour rise to fame, a promise she had made shortly before winning the Miss Universe title at the Pageant.After working on the vaudeville circuit for 32 weeks, she moved to New York in 1931. One night, she sang at a benefit and was discovered by Florenz Ziegfeld, who arranged for her to appear on Broadway in the Ziegfeld Follies, and she followed this success with her role in the production of Tattle Tales in 1933. During this time she was closely associated with Russ Colombo, and her celebrity status was elevated by the media attention she received while denying rumors of an impending marriage. Dell and Columbo had met at her Ziegfeld audition; Columbo's manager, Con Conrad, was determined to end their relationship and did so with a series of "publicity only" romances between Columbo and other, more famous actresses.She moved to Hollywood in December 1933 and was signed to a contract by Paramount Pictures. Initially being contracted for bit parts, she won her first film role over such established contenders as Mae Clarke and Isabel Jewell and made her debut in Wharf Angel (1934). The film was a success and the reviews for Dell were favorable; Paramount began to consider her as a potential star. Her most important and substantial role followed in the Shirley Temple film Little Miss Marker.Her next film Shoot the Works led to comparisons with Mae West, and her rendition of the ballad "With My Eyes Wide Open, I'm Dreaming" in the film became a hit record. Paramount scheduled her to play opposite Gary Cooper and Temple in the 1934 film Now and Forever, in what was to have been her first major starring role as a romantic lead.
Movies & TV Series
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