Singer/dancer/actress in films, theater and television
Dolores Gray was born on June 7, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois. She was a Broadway star in the 1940s and 1950s. Dolores began her career in radio singing with Milton Berle and Rudy Vallee. An uncredited bit part (as Dolores) in the Republic Pictures film Lady for a Night (1941) didn’t help her career much. In 1944, she made her debut on Broadway in “Seven Lively Arts”. That same year she played a small role as a singer in the Bette Davis vehicle Mr. Skeffington. She worked steadily through the mid- to late-1940s in such shows as “Annie Get Your Gun (UK) and “Destry Rides Again.” She received a Tony award for her work in “Carnival in Flanders.”
In 1952 Dolores got the role of Kim O’Neill in “The Buick Circus Hour,” an NBC series that alternated every fourth week with “Texaco Star Theater” (Milton Berle’s show), premiered on October 7, 1952. The series, which originated live from New York, had an aging clown (Joe E. Brown) trying to help an up-and-coming young singer who has just joined the troupe (Dolores). Kim, however, had only joined the troupe to be near it’s owner, Bill Sothern (John Raitt). Many musicals numbers and circus acts were featured but the show folded on June 16, 1953, at the end of it’s first season.
Dolores was signed by MGM in early 1955. Her first film was the Arthur Freed musical Kismet (1955), starring Sebastian Cabot, Vic Damone and Ann Blyth. Dolores had the plum role of Lalume. The film, however, wasn’t as successful as MGM hoped. That same year, Dolores starred with Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse and Dan Dailey in It’s Always Fair Weather, an underrated musical about three soldiers who meet ten years after the end of the war and find they have nothing in common with each other. Dolores played Madeline Bradville, a television hostess. She sang three songs, “Thanks a Lot, But No Thanks,” “Klenz Rite” and “Music is Better Than Words.” Strangely, that film was not extremely successful at the box-office either. Her next MGM film was The Opposite Sex, also starring June Allyson, Joan Collins and Ann Sheridan. Dolores sang “The Opposite Sex (Prologue).” Her last MGM film was Vincente Minnelli’s Designing Woman (1957), which also starred Gregory Peck, Lauren Bacall and Sam Levene. After that, MGM terminated Dolores’ contract.
Following her MGM contract termination, Dolores sang in clubs, recorded singles for Capitol Records and played many roles on television. In 1973, she returned to the theater and starred in a U.K. production of “Gypsy.” Over a decade later, in 1987, Stephen Sondheim lured her back to the English stage, and Dolores played the lead in “Follies.”