Along with Dorothy, the 1924 cast of Scandals included Dolores Costello, Winnie
Lightner and Louise Brooks who grew fond of Dorothy and the two became friends.
They shared some interesting adventures in The Big Apple.
According to Dorothy: "So I was a Scandals Girl for a while. I met butter-and-egg
men, hobohemians who threw red ink parties, Middle Western bankers whose
wives misunderstood 'em, and college boys from Princeton, Dartmouth, Harvard,
New York, New Haven and Hartford. It took me two months to realize that all this
wining and dining was the bunk. But chorus served my purpose. It brought me
publicity in the Sunday roto sections and in a few magazines. (Alfred) Cheney
Johnston took my picture and that helped too. I figured it all added to my chance of
getting into pictures".
|During her career, Dorothy worked with many famous actors and actresses and others that were up and coming.
Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Tom Mix, Anita Page, Alice Terry, Nils Asther, Anna Q. Nilsson, Viola Dana, John
Gilbert, Renee Adoree, Lionel Barrymore, Norma Shearer, Lew Cody, Aileen Pringle, Tim McCoy, Roy Rogers,
Johnny Mack Brown, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Jack Benny, Jack Holt, Ralph Graves, Bill Boyd, Robert Montgomery,
Zazu Pitts, Regis Toomey, Lon Chaney Jr and of course, Buster Keaton.
|Dorothy's star on
"Walk of Fame" is
found at 6655
For Dorothy, getting to Hollywood would be via New York City. She had wanted to be a dancer for a long time and then
an actress but her family did not approve. The first time she went to New York Dorothy claims she ran away from home
but was soon brought back. The second time she went to "study art" and stay with a "maiden aunt" but Dorothy didn't
go to her aunt's place. Instead, when she arrived in the City she asked a porter where a cheap place to live was and went
there. Here she went from agent to agent trying to get a dancing job. Many told her to give up and go back home,
others gave her some useful advice, she persisted and it worked.
There are many conflicting reports of her age when she went to New York. According to a federal census report she was
20, according to her first marriage license she would have been 22 and according to Dorothy she was 15 years old. This
is a continuing theme with Dorothy throughout her career, everywhere she went and every paper she filled out, she
gave a different age. And Dot wasn't alone, in Hollywood everyone wants to be younger than they really are.
|A Dancer in New York City
|While still in Alabama, Dorothy saved money she made
selling her paintings and crafts, so when she got to NYC
she was able to rent a $12 a week apartment. By sharing
the apartment with another girl she was able to half her
rent to $6!
Being constantly turned down by theatrical agents did
not deter her ambition and her first venture in New
York was a Ned Wayburn fashion show. Using her last
few dollars, Dot also took acrobatic dance lessons at
Wayburn's dance school. Ned Wayburn's school was
considered to be THE launching point for any career in
George White's Scandals of 1924 ran from June 30, 1924 to December 13, 1924 (198
performances total) at the Apollo Theatre and Dorothy was part of the opening night cast.
The costumes worn by the girls were very risqué thus the title of the show. All of the
costumes and even the curtains were designed by Erte and made in Paris, France by Max
Welty. One critic went as far as describing the outfits as such: "There were large quantities of
gorgeous costumes much of them on the girls of the chorus from the neck up and the shoes
The fashion show kept her busy for a short time but Dorothy decided it was time to try the theater again. She went to
a casting call for George White's "Scandals" - a musical revue - and got the job that day. Even though the casting was
closed, a chance meeting with George White, sheer determination and her thick Southern accent got her a place in
the chorus. She also got a nickname from White that stuck with her throughout her career "Little Alabam".
In a 1929 interview, Dorothy spoke of how she was too
proud to ask for an advance on her paycheck from George
White. For six weeks before the show opened, Dot lived on
$60 that also paid for rent and dancing lessons. The
company went to Atlantic City to perform before it opened
in New York - by that time she was completely broke. Every
day on the way to the theater Dorothy passed a candy shop
and made up her mind that the first thing she'd purchase
when the pay started coming in was a pound of fudge and
eat it all herself. Well she did, and then was too sick to eat
for three days afterward.
It was during this time she met the people with the connections and got her
movie contract. According to actress and fellow Scandals Girl Louise Brooks here
is how it happened:
"When I was in Scandals naturally all the girls looked forward to becoming movie
stars, and in The Ritz Hotel, most of the very famous, very rich men about town
in New York kept apartments year-round where they would give parties. One of
these belonged to Otto Kahn, though of course they would lend them to each
other. "I was invited to a party night with some of the girls from Scandals, and
among them were Walter Wanger and Joe Schenck and Lord Beaverbrook
(William Maxwell Aitken - British newspaper baron and cabinet minister).
So we - all the girls - went up to this little grey suite in the Ritz and we were
introduced and we had drinks and we talked, and I saw that Lord Beaverbrook was
very, very interested in the girl I liked most in the Scandals. She was a darling girl
from the South, a darling girl - and they were talking and very cosy, and I watched
very discretely and they did disappear into the little grey bedroom in the little grey
suite in the Ritz, and then they came out a little while later and a few days later she
told me that she had a contract at MGM and she did go to MGM and she did do very
well, and I say hooray for Lord Beaverbrook!"
The reason this is known to be Dorothy is that Louise was inconsistent in keeping
identities a secret - in one interview she kept Dorothy's name secret and in another
she kept Lord Beaverbrook's identity secret.