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Dorothy Dickson



Dorothy Dickson emerged as a dancer in the public dance hall, Jardin de dance, in New York, in the summer of 1914. Later, partnered with her husband Charles Hyson, she was featured in the musical "Oh Boy" and at the Cocoanut Grove in 1917. By April she was billed, without partner, as "The Greatest Dance Personality in the World." This extravagant claim attracted Ziegfeld who hired her as featured dancer in the 1917 Follies. She followed her Ziegfield stint with the musical "Girl O'Mine" at the Bijou in 1918, her first speaking part. She teamed with Hyson again for Jerome Kern's "Rock-a-bye Baby." Her success was so pronounced that the New York Times on May 26, 1918, ran a feature announcing her the successor of Irene Castle as the mistress of ballroom dancing. Everyone was struck by the expressive way she used her shoulders.

During the First World War she was often on stage performing for troop benefits. In 1919 she appeared briefly George M. Cohan's "The Royal Vagabond" and in the operetta "Lassie." That same year she began her film career, dancing in "Eastward Ho." Signed by Famous-Players Lasky, she finished three films before crossing the Atlantic to London to star in the English edition of Ziegfeld's "Sally," a vehicle in which she enjoyed enormous success. Dickson stayed in London, shaping a distinguished career on the English Stage recorded in photographs by Johnston's friend, James Abbe. "The Cabaret Girl" sealed her renown and earned her the friendship of the Queen Mother.

During the Second World War she founded the English version of the Stage Door Canteen. She lived to be 102, one of the revered figures on the English stage. David S. Shields/ALS