Date with Dorothy

Dorothy Loudon telephones from New York to talk about Granada’s The Variety Show

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From the TVTimes for week commencing 23 March 1960

THE sleepy voice on the end of the telephone line in New York said: “Good morning; this is Dorothy Loudon. This is quite a surprise. I didn’t think anyone in England had heard of me.”

As I had the advantage of five hours over the 26-year-old singer comedienne, I said “Good afternoon,” and apologised for bringing her out of bed at 8am (her time) to answer the telephone — and questions about her appearance in Granada’s The Variety Show, next Thursday.

The Loudon voice came over loud ‘n’ clear: “Well, it’s my biggest opportunity yet. I can’t tell you how excited I am about appearing in London for the first time.

“I have been doing a special cabaret act here in America, and I am wondering how it will go down in England. Tell me, are the British public very critical?”

I told her the British are a pretty amiable bunch.

“You see,” cooed the Loudon voice above a menacing transatlantic splutter, “I don’t tell jokes. I hate women who tell jokes. I mean, what’s so clever about telling jokes?”

I said that it depended largely on the joke and on who tells the joke.

“Yes, but there are not so many people around who can really tell a joke. Certainly very few women, anyway, and I’ve tried to be a different comedienne.

“How do I describe my brand of humour? Well, it’s off-beat. The humour comes out in the treatment of my songs. Singing a song in a certain style can be a whole lot funnier than telling a joke.

“Michael Brown, the fellow who wrote the Lizzie Borden song, has written a new song especially for me. It is based on a famous murder case. But don’t let that frighten you. It is really very funny.”

Dorothy Loudon's head

I gathered that Dorothy Loudon had good cause to talk so enthusiastically about humour … before breakfast. Even in this instance, when she had retired to bed late and was nursing a cold. “It’s true I’m pretty excited,” she said. “All of a sudden everything is happening to me. I have just finished playing in Las Vegas and, honestly, I had standing ovations there every night.

“Considering they see everybody in Las Vegas, I was particularly pleased to come out tops. The result is I am being flooded with TV offers and I am now signing a recording contract.”

Glamorous Dorothy Loudon — a Boston-born girl — has been fortunate in having the benefit of show business experience passed down to her by her musical family. Her grandmother was an actress and dramatic coach. Her father was a saxophonist. And her mother was a pianist.

“The family background helped me a lot when I left school to begin my career in New York,” she told me. “But during the past six years, particularly, it has taken a lot of hard work to develop this humorous style of mine. The family experience helped in as much as I was able to develop my natural feeling for show business by studying dancing and acting at school.

“But once I came to New York, I was on my own. Work didn’t come easily in the big city. But I was engaged as a pianist and vocalist in a cocktail lounge and, all at once, my career began to take shape.

“Producers were interested enough to give me a spot on television, and I began adding the comedy to my act. My fortunes had changed, and I was getting more jobs than I could cope with. Now, I think I’m really going places.”

Was it too much to ask her to talk on the subject of romance at the unromantic hour of eight in the morning?

A pause on the New York end of the line indicated that it might well be.

But then the Loudon voice insisted to the contrary, thus:

“A girl should be able to talk about romance at any time of the day. I’ve been talking romance seriously to Norman Paris, a New York piano player, for the past four years.

“At last we have got engaged. We plan to marry in the summer. Yes, it is true that I am planning to settle down, even though my career has taken this sudden upsurge. Marriage is a wonderful institution. I would give up my career for it if necessary.”

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