Wednesday, September 28, 2011

FORGOTTEN ONES: DAN DAILEY

When you hear about the classic movie dancing greats you automatically think of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly and rightfully so. However there are a lot of capable dancers that left their mark on Hollywood. One such dancer that comes to mind was Dan Dailey. He lacked the polish of Fred Astaire, and the athletics of Gene Kelly, but he was 20th Century Fox's answer to the both of them in the 1940s, and he deserves to be remembered.

Born in New York City on December 14, 1915, to James J. and Helen Dailey, both born in New York City. He appeared in a minstrel show when very young, and appeared in vaudeville before his Broadway debut in 1937 in Babes in Arms. In 1940, he was signed by MGM to make movies and, although his past career had been in musicals, he was initially cast as a Nazi in The Mortal Storm. However, the people at MGM realized their mistake quickly and cast him in a series of musical films.

He served in the United States Army during World War II, was commissioned as an Army officer after graduation from Signal Corps Officer Candidate School at Fort Monmouth, NJ. He then returned Hollywood to more musicals. Beginning with Mother Wore Tights (1947) Dailey became the frequent and favorite co-star of movie legend Betty Grable. His performance in their film When My Baby Smiles at Me in 1948 garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.


In 1950, he starred in A Ticket to Tomahawk, often noted as one of the first screen appearances of Marilyn Monroe, in a very small part as a dance-hall girl. He portrayed baseball pitcher Dizzy Dean in a 1952 biopic, Pride of St. Louis.

One of his most notable roles came in There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), which featured Irving Berlin's music and also starred Ethel Merman, Marilyn Monroe, Johnnie Ray, and Donald O'Connor, whose wife Gwen divorced O'Connor and married Dailey at about the same period.

As the musical genre began to wane in the mid-1950s, he moved on to various comedic and dramatic roles, including appearing as one of The Four Just Men (1959) in the Sapphire Films TV series for ITV, his television series, The Governor & J.J. and the NBC Mystery Movie series "Faraday & Company". His sister was Another World actress Irene Dailey.

A rumor that Dan Dailey was a cross dresser came out in the late 1950s, and it damaged his career. With the downfall of the American movie musical, his career was also hurt further. Dailey was always a heavy drinker, but when his only son committed suicide in 1975, it further sent him on a downhill spiral. Dailey broke his hip in 1976 while performing in The Odd Couple, and died on October 16, 1978 of anemia. He is an example of another talented star whose fame did not shine bright long enough in Hollywood...

22 comments:

  1. Two of my favorites , It's Always Fair Weather, and his second baseball film The Kid From Left Field

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  2. I adore watching Dan Dailey. I think the Academy messed up when he wasn't nominated for "It's Always Fair Weather" and "The Governor and J.J." looms large in my memory.

    On the A&E Biography of Betty Grable, Alice Faye said that Dan was truly in love with Betty. It makes watching their movies together extra special.

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  3. My favorite Dan Dailey movie has always been "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "It's Always Fair Weather" but I think "Meet Me In Las Vegas" is an underrated gem.

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  4. No matter what movie he is in I really liked watching him.
    Thanks whoever wrote the biography I learned a lot about Dan and more proof that actors are just human being. And I feel like I know him better. And I wanna try in watch those 2 tv shows I never knew about.

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  5. He was a talent and a great leading man. He died too young.

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  6. I love the film "The Girl Next Door" in which Dan Dailey starred with June Haver and Dennis Day. Such a fun film. It also had Billy Gray, Natalie Schafer and Cara Williams. IMDB's search is acting quirky.... I can't find this movie with their main search feature but it was June Haver's last film and it shows up in her bio. Dan Dailey was just a really special talent. It's sad that he apparently didn't have a stable home life. He was such a great partner for Betty Grable.

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  7. I used to date Dan Dailey and I remember how much fun he was and how wonderful it was to dance with him. I also remember being at the Encore with him one night while Betty Grable was there. He went to her table and sat with her for the longest time.

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    1. I am not sure if you are still on here, but I would love to talk with you. I am a HUGE Dan Dailey fan and have been researching him for years in order to write his biography.

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  8. Loved Dan Dailey in whatever he was in. His megawatt smile and terrific dancing brought me much joy and he was a wonderful actor. Miss his talent.

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  9. I had the pleasure of meeting Dan back in the 60's in a place called Punchinello's in Chicago. Punchinello's was a place where the well know could go to relax without being bothered. I met many of the well knowns there, such as Dan. Martha Raye and many many more. I always enjoyed the movies with Dan and could never say anything bad about him. I never knew about his personal life. I thought he was a nice guy then and still do.
    At the time I worked at a Chicago Radio.
    Bob O'Halloran

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  10. I love all the old movies with Dan Dailey. He could sing, dance and act. They called that a triple threat back then. He was so very talented. They don't make them like that anymore. What a shame. I wish I could have lived back than, the music, the dancing and all of those old wonderful movies were so much better than the ones they make now.

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    1. The movies were great I agree. Thank heaven for tcm!!!

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  11. I just watched the magnificently restored "There's No Business Like Show Business" last night, and I was very impressed with Dan Dailey. I had never heard of him before. Terrific voice and dancing.

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  12. Dan Dailey was such an underrated talent. Enjoyed every one of his movies. Especially the musical comedies where he displayed his great talent for singing & dancing. Miss him.

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  13. Don't know how his WWII service got screwed up. He was a navy Lt. and at one time was at Silver Springs, FL in charge of a group making underwater demolition training films. Russell Hayden who played Hopalong Cassidy's sidekick was in the group. I was there and met both of them. At 13 I worked at "The Springs" tying up and untying photo subs--$3.00 a day. Daily was a speaker at Ocala High School. One day I started to run out of the dressing room after changing to my swim suit and literally ran into Dan who was coming in. I fell down and looked up at this big guy in Navy Officer white. He laughed and helped me up. That was my first introduction to Dan Daily. Met him for real later. Nice guy.

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  14. I sitting here right now watching "You where meant for me" What a movie!

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  15. Watching 'Meet Me In Las Vegas' Love, Love Dan Dsiley!!!

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  16. What a talent. He could act, dance, and sing. Not many actors today can do that. They're too one dimentional anymore.

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  17. Just watched "Call Me Mister" and loved it. He was a terrific dancer and singer, and actor. Loved all his movies, especially "There's No Business Like Show Business". Wonderful movie.

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  18. Anonymous November 4 2016 11:22 PM
    Checking the tv for something to watch I found Chicken Every Sunday.Saw and loved all his musicals.Always had a silly crush. Now 79 still like him.

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  19. I'll be 79 In a few weeks also and I have always had a crush on Dan Daily also. In my later years I learned to tap dance because of his movies. Loved every minute of it for 25 years. It's amazing how someone can have an influence on you

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  20. It should be mentioned that Dan was a superior horseman. He surely could have been a professional rider. He rode jumping horses with the same wonderful style that he danced. What a nice guy!

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