A popular radio and television performer for over 40 years, Dinah Shore was known for the warmth of her personality and for her sincere, unaffected stage presence. Television favored her natural, relaxed style, and like Perry Como, to whom she was often compared, Shore was one of the medium's first popular singing stars. Even though by her own admission, Dinah Shore did not have a great voice, she put it to good advantage by enunciating lyrics clearly and singing the melody without distracting ornamentation. The result was the very definition of "easy listening."
By the time Dinah Shore first appeared on television, she was already very well-known as a big band singer and radio performer. In 1952, she was chosen most popular female vocalist by a Gallup poll. She was also appearing in the best night clubs, making motion pictures, and selling approximately two million phonograph records per year. Miss Shore's subsequent two decades of television work merely enhanced her already remarkable career.
Dinah Shore first appeared on television in 1951 when she began a twice a week program over NBC. This fifteen minute show was broadcast on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30 P.M. Jack Gould, The New York Times radio and television critic enthused about the program: "Last week on her initial appearance, she was the picture of naturalness and conducted her show with a disarming combination of authority and humility."
The fifteen minute program was produced by Alan Handley, who made a special effort to make the musical production numbers interesting. The imaginative backdrops he provided for Shore's songs were inspired by travel posters, New Yorker cartoons, history, literary classics, and Hollywood. Handley often checked department store window displays and went to the theater to get ideas for these numbers. On one occasion, he used a Georgia O'Keefe painting of a bleached cattle skull as a backdrop for a song called "Cow Cow Boogie." On another occasion, he made a living Calder mobile out of his vocal quintet "The Notables" by suspending them from the ceiling of the studio.
In 1956, Dinah Shore began a one hour program on NBC, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show. The program was extremely popular, and its theme song "See the USA in your Chevrolet . . . ," always ending with Shore's famous farewell kiss to the television audience, remain television icons. The high production values of her 15-minute program continued on the 60-minute show. The lineup usually contained two or three guests drawn from the worlds of music, sports, and movies. Shore was able to make almost any performer feel comfortable and could bring together such unlikely pairings as Frank Sinatra and baseball star Dizzy Dean.
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show was produced in Burbank, California by Bob Banner who also directed each episode. The choreographer was Tony Charmoli who occasionally danced on camera. Often the production numbers took advantage of special visual effects. For "76 Trombones," Banner used prisms mounted in front of the television cameras to turn 12 musicians into several dozen. The number was so popular that it was repeated on two subsequent occasions. For "Flim Flam Floo," Banner used the chromakey so that objects appeared and disappeared, and actors floated through the air without the aid of wires. In his review of the opening show of 1959, Jack Gould called the program "a spirited and tuneful affair." Miss Shore, he wrote "sang with the warmth and infectious style that are so distinctly her own," and he judged that she "continues to be the best dressed woman in television."
Dinah Shore's musical variety program went off the air in May 1963. After that time, she appeared in a number of specials and later did a series of interview shows in the 1970's including Dinah!, Dinah and Friends, Dinah and Her New Best Friends, and Dinah's Place. Throughout her career, Dinah Shore remained one of the great ladies of the entertainment world.
-Henry B. Aldridge
The Notables, quintet (1951-1955)
The Skylarks, quintet (1955-1957)
Ticker Freeman, Piano
TheVic Schoen Orchestra (1951-1954)
The Harry Zimmerman Orchestra (1954-1957)
November 1951-July 1957 Tuesday & Thursday 7:30-7:45
Eells, G. "Dinah Shore." Look (New York), 6 December 1960.