Dorothy Lamour was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lamour had French Louisianan, Spanish and Irish descent. Her parents' marriage lasted only a few years, with her mother re-marrying to Clarence Lamour, and Dorothy took his last name. That marriage ended in divorce when Dorothy was a teenager.
Early in her career, Lamour met J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI. According to Hoover's biographer, Hoover pursued Lamour romantically, but she was initially interested only in friendship with him. Hoover and Lamour remained close friends and after his 1972 death, Lamour did not deny rumors that she'd had an affair with him in the years after she divorced Kay. However, this appears nowhere in her memoirs "My Side of the Road".
Lamour's good humor and lack of pretension allowed her to have a remarkably long career in show business for someone best known as a glamour girl. She was a popular draw on the dinner theater circuit of the 1970s. In the 1960s and 1970s, she lived with her longtime husband William Ross Howard III (whom she married in 1943), in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland. Lamour published her autobiography My Side of the Road in 1980, revived her nightclub act, and performed in plays and television shows such as Hart to Hart, Crazy Like a Fox, and Murder, She Wrote.
She is best-remembered for appearing in the Road to... movies, a series of successful comedies co-starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Some of Lamour's other notable films include John Ford's The Hurricane (1937), Spawn of the North (1938), Disputed Passage (1939), Johnny Apollo (1940), Aloma of the South Seas (1941), Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942), Dixie (1943), A Medal for Benny (1945), My Favorite Brunette (1947), On Our Merry Way (1948) and the best picture Oscar-winner The Greatest Show on Earth (1952).
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