Classic Hollywood #132 – Robert Preston & Dorothy Lamour

Romantic Couple Robert Preston & Dorothy Lamour Bid Adieu 1940

ROMANTIC COUPLE SEPARATES
But not for long, perhaps. Here are Robert Preston and Dorothy Lamour, who met and fell in love during the making of the Paramount production, “Typhoon,” together at a farewell party for Dorothy before she left for a vacation in Honolulu. Friends gathered at the Cocoanut Grove to bid her bon voyage, Preston abandoning his work in the San Jacinto mountains on Northwest Mounted Police” to keep the date. Photo: Paramount, May 11, 1940

As many co-stars do, Preston and Lamour did have a love affair during the filming of Typhoon. Despite the intimation that this vacation break was temporary, the young and glamorous couple did soon permanently separate.

Dorothy Lamour

Dorothy Lamour was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton (December 10 1914) in New Orleans, LA.

Lamour was three years older than Robert Preston, so maybe age and life experience differences would hasten the end of the relationship.

Robert Preston & Dorothy Lamour, Cocoanut Grove nightclub Ambassador Hotel Los Angeles 1940. photo: Paramount

Soon after the love affair was over Preston married actress Kay Feltus (professionally known as Catherine Craig) on November 8, 1940 in Las Vegas. The two had met while studying acting together at the Pasadena School of the Theatre.

Lamour’s path to movies began in 1931 when she won the Miss New Orleans beauty contest. The following year trumpeter and bandleader Herbie Kay signed Lamour to sing in his band. Kay and Lamour married in 1935. Lamour’s fame would grow fast and she began appearing in motion pictures. Her ambition and desire to pursue a full time film career was one of the reasons the marriage to Kay would end in 1939.

Lamour would go on to make many films with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Lamour married William Ross Howard III on April 7, 1943 and the couple remained married until his death in 1978. Dorothy Lamour died September 22, 1996.

Robert Preston

Robert Preston, born Robert Preston Meservey (June 8, 1918) rise to stardom began at the age of 20 with strong roles in King Of Alcatraz (1938), Union Pacific (1938) and Beau Geste (1939).

Preston commented on the movie where he and Lamour met. “About the only role I’ve ever played that I didn’t believe in but let myself be talked into doing was in “Typhoon,” with Dorothy Lamour. She wore a sarong, and I had to wear one, too. It didn’t feel right. It embarrassed me. I played a rum-soaked rotter left on an island by mutinous members of a pearl-fishing expedition, and was discovered by a beautiful maiden. I didn’t like any of that. The only reason the movie was called “Typhoon” was that another company had already made one called “Hurricane.” I received the most fan mail for “Typhoon” I had ever got in my life. It made me wonder.”

Even with positive reviews, Preston’s movie career had stalled by the early 1950s and Preston transitioned to doing television work. Preston also returned to the legitimate theater where he made an impact that would bring him glowing accolades.

Preston got the part of the flamboyant huckster Professor Harold Hill in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man (1957) and he made it his own. The play won five Tony awards including Best Musical and a Best Actor award for Preston.

Preston would then go on to star in the 1962 screen version which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. With his career buoyed by his Music Man success, Preston transitioned fluidly for the rest of his life between stage, television and movies.

Three of Preston’s better films were made late in his career; S.O.B. (1981); Victor/Victoria (1982) and The Last Starfighter (1984). Robert Preston remained married to Catherine Craig until his death from lung cancer on March 21, 1987.

1 thought on “Classic Hollywood #132 – Robert Preston & Dorothy Lamour

  1. ANTHONY D CLUM

    Thanks, please check on the award for best picture. The Music Man was nominated for BP but won for Music Scoring.

    Reply

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