Shore ranks as one of the important on-air musical stars of the
first two decades of television in the United States. Indeed from
1956 through 1963 there were few more well-known TV personalities.
More than any song she sang, Dinah Shore symbolized cheery optimism
and southern charm, most remembered for blowing a big kiss to viewers
at the end of her 1950s variety show. As hostess, she sometimes
danced and frequently participated in comedy skits, but was best
loved as a smooth vocalist reminiscent of a style associated with
pioneered the prime-time color variety show when The Dinah Shore
Chevy Show started in October 1956 on NBC and ran on Sunday
nights until the end of the 1963 season. Sponsored by General Motors,
then the largest corporation in the world, Dinah Shore helped make
the low-priced Chevrolet automobile the most widely selling car
up to that point in history.
represented a rare woman able to achieve major success hosting a
TV variety show. In the late 1950s her enthusiasm and lack of pretension
proved so popular that she was four times named to the list of the
"most admired woman in the world". Her desire to please showed in
her singing style, which some purists dismissed as sentimental,
but through her recording career she did earn nine gold records.
Shore made listeners and later viewers feel good, and so beginning
with her first broadcasts on radio in the late 1930s and then on
television, she was able to remain a constant presence in American
broadcasting for more than 50 years.
Fanny Rose Shore was old enough to go to school, in her hometown
of Nashville, Tennessee, she found herself taunted for being Jewish
in a decidedly non?Jewish world of a segregated Deep South. Undeterred,
Shore logged experience on Nashville radio while in college, on
her hometown's WSM-AM, best known as the home of the Grand Ole Opry.
Shore was no hillbilly singer, no typical Southern belle. She took
a degree in sociology at Vanderbilt University, putting herself
through college with her radio earnings. Her show's theme song was
the Ethel Waters blues-inspired "Dinah," and Shore changed her name
accordingly. The success of local radio's Our Little Cheerleader
of Song enabled Shore to move to New York City to try to make
it in Tin Pan Alley, then the center of the world of pop music.
Shore, by her own admission, did not have the vocal equipment of
Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday, and never chose to reveal much
of herself in music as did her other idol, Peggy Lee. However, she
was persistent. During the late 1930s, having auditioned unsuccessfully
for such band leaders as Benny Goodman and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey,
Shore finally hooked up with the Xavier Cugat band. Through the
1940s she sold one million copies of "Yes, My Darling Daughter,"
and that recording success was followed quickly by hits such as
"Blues in the Night," "Shoo Fly Pie," "Buttons and Bows," "Dear
Hearts and Gentle People," and "It's So Nice to Have a Man Around
the House." During the World War II, Shore sang these for the troops
in Normandy and for shows at other Allied bases in Europe.
1950 Dinah Shore made a guest appearance on Bob Hope's first NBC
television special. A year later NBC assigned her a regular TV series
which ran until 1956 on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 7:30-7:45
P.M., Eastern time, following 15 minutes of network news. This led,
in time, to her Sunday night series. RCA and NBC corporate chief
David Sarnoff loved Shore's conservative vocal choices and middlebrow
sensibilities. In retrospect, Shore's famed signature theme song,
the catchy Chevrolet jingle, "See the USA in your Chevrolet," accompanied
by the sweeping smooch to the audience, were so theatrically commercial
they made Ed Sullivan seem subversive and Pat Boone look like a
rock star. Shore did best when she played the safe 1950s non-threatening
"girl next door," with no blond (she was born a brunette) hair out
of place, no note, no joke offensive to anyone. The outcast of Nashville
finally fit in.
Dinah Shore Chevy Show rarely entered the top 20 ratings against
CBS's General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald Reagan which regularly
won the time slot. Reagan had a better lead-in from Ed Sullivan.
Still, Shore won Emmy Awards for Best Female Singer (1954?55), Best
Female Personality (1956?57), and Best Actress in a Musical or Variety
the Chevy Show, Shore went on host three daytime television
programs: the 90?minute talk show Dinah! (1974 to 1980),
Dinah's Place (1970 to 1974), and Dinah and Friends (1979
to 1984). Her TV career ended in 1991 on cable TV's The Nashville
Network as A Conversation with Dinah. By then she was better
known as Hollywood heart throb Burt Reynolds' "older" girl friend,
and sponsor of a major golf tournament for women.
SHORE. Born Frances Rose Shore in Winchester, Tennessee, U.S.A.,
1 March 1917. Educated at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee,
B.A. 1939. Married: 1) George Montgomery, 1943 (divorced, 1962);
one daughter and one son; 2) Maurice Fabian Smith, 1963 (divorced,
1964). Singer, WNEW, New York, 1938; sustaining singer, NBC, 1938;
signed contract with RCA-Victor, 1940; starred in Chamber Music
Society of Lower Basin Street, NBC radio program, 1940; joined
Eddie Cantor radio program, 1941; starred in own radio program for
General Foods, 1943; entertained American troops in European Theater
of operations, 1944; hosted radio program for Procter & Gamble;
starred in TV show for Chevrolet, 1956-63; hosted numerous variety
and talk shows. Recipient: Emmy Awards, 1956, 1957, 1973, 1974,
and 1976. Died in Beverly Hills, California, 24 February 1994.
1951-57 The Dinah Shore Show
1956-63 The Dinah Shore Chevy Show
1974-79 Dinah's Place
1976 Dinah and Her New Best Friends
1979-84 Dinah and Friends
1989-91 A Conversation With Dinah
Thank Your Lucky Stars, 1943; Up In Arms, 1944; Belle
of the Yukon, 1944; Follow the Boys, 1944; Make Mine
Music (voice only), 1946; Till the Clouds Roll By, 1946;
Fun and Fancy Free (voice only), 1947; Aaron Slick from
Punkin Crick, 1952; Oh God!, 1977.
in the Kitchen with Dinah. Garden City, New York: Doubleday,
See also Dinah
Shore Chevy Show