Sunday, January 25, 2009

Irene Dunne

Most know Irene Dunne for her long string of successful films in the 1930s and 1940s such as I Remember Mama, Magnificent Obsession, Life With Father and Love Affair (in which you can see her singing "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" - see the link below).

Our concern here, however, is Irene's true glory years before selling out to Hollywood. After graduating from Loretta Academy in Kentucky, she went to Chicago and studied at Florenz Ziegfeld's Musical College, earning a diploma there in 1919. She'd originally set out to be a teacher but ended up being lured by an offer to play the lead in a 1920 road show of Irene.

She spent the 1920s working onstage nonstop, in productions like The Clinging Vine, Yours Truly and our personal favorite, Luckee Girl. It was a risque story about life in Paris and Irene got to sing lead on many numbers, such as "I Hate You", "Chiffon", and "A Flat in Montmartre". Unfortunately, the show closed on Broadway after only 81 performances.

In 1929 she was with Ziegfeld's production of Show Boat, and that's when a Hollywood talent scout spotted her talent and brought the o the West Coast. Though she went on to do many impressive films, it's a shame there isn't more to document her raw early years with Ziegfeld.

View: Irene Dunne sings "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"

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