Dorothy Lamour, the sultry, sarong-wearing sidekick of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope when they went on the “Road,” died Sunday. She was 81.
Lamour was often typecast as a sort of female Tarzan in a string of island-theme movies in the late 1930s and early ‘40s.
She first donned the wraparound garment that made her famous in her very first film, the 1936 movie “Jungle Princess.” She went on to play similar parts in the 1937 John Ford spectacular “The Hurricane,” “Typhoon” and “Beyond the Blue Horizon.”
She also wore her sarong in the first of the Hope-Crosby “Road” pictures, “The Road to Singapore,” in 1940. It was the start of a fertile comic relationship.
The trio went on “The Road to Zanzibar,” 1941; “The Road to Morocco,” 1942; “The Road to Utopia,” 1945; “The Road to Rio,” 1948; “The Road to Bali,” 1953; and “The Road to Hong Kong,” 1962. (She liked to quip: “We only count six, because ‘Hong Kong’ created a bomb.”)
The films combined adventure, slapstick, zany ad libs and insideshow-biz satire. Lamour played the exotic brunette who fell in league with the playboy with the ski-jump nose and his smooth-voiced pal who vied for her attentions.
“It’s a picnic working with Bob - and Bing, too,” she said in a 1942 Associated Press interview. “I never know what’s going to happen next. They’d rather tease me than eat, and anything goes.”
“I was the happiest and highest paid straight woman in the business,” she recalled years later.
She saw herself as more than a sarong-wearer, though.
“I made 60 motion pictures and only wore the sarong in six pictures, but it did become a kind of trademark” she said. “And it did hinder me. They expect you to always be the young girl leaning against the palm tree. Why should you want to act?”
Among her more serious films were the 1940 crime melodrama “Johnny Apollo” and the 1945 film “A Medal for Benny.”
In later years she was frequently seen on television, doing guest shots on such shows as “The Love Boat,” “Murder, She Wrote” and, naturally, a few Bob Hope specials.
She also toured in stage shows such as “Hello, Dolly!”
Lamour was born in New Orleans in 1914. She got her start in show business as a singer before going into movies in the mid-‘30s.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Lamour’s films The Jungle Princess, 1936 College Holiday, 1937 Swing High, Swing Low, 1937 Last Train From Madrid, 1937 Thrill of a Lifetime, 1937 The Hurricane, 1937 The Big Broadcast of 1938, 1938 Her Jungle Love, 1938 Tropic Holiday, 1938 Spawn of the North, 1938 St. Louis Blues, 1939 Man About Town, 1939 Disputed Passage, 1939 Johnny Apollo, 1940 Road to Singapore, 1940 Typhoon, 1940 Moon Over Burma, 1940 Chad Hanna, 1940 Road to Zanzibar, 1941 Caught in the Draft, 1941 Aloma of the South Seas, 1941 The Fleet’s In, 1942 Beyond the Blue Horizon, 1942 Road to Morocco, 1942 Riding High, 1943 Star Spangled Rhythm, 1943 They Got Me Covered, 1943 Dixie, 1943 And the Angels Sing, 1944 Rainbow Island, 1944 A Medal for Benny, 1945 Duffy’s Tavern, 1945 Masquerade in Mexico, 1945 Road to Utopia, 1946 My Favorite Brunette, 1947 Wild Harvest, 1947 Variety Girl, 1947 Road to Rio, 1947 On Our Merry Way, 1948 Lulu Belle, 1948 The Girl From Manhattan, 1948 The Lucky Stiff, 1949 Slightly French, 1949 Manhandled, 1949 Here Comes the Groom, 1951 Greatest Show on Earth, 1952 Road to Bali, 1953 Road to Hong Kong, 1962 Donovan’s Reef, 1963 Pajama Party, 1964 The Phynx, 1970 Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood, 1976 Creepshow 2, 1987