Dottye Brown

Dottye Brown was a pretty Louisiana belle that got into Hollywood via the publicity gimmick way – and even played some credited roles! However, she son switched her career focus from movies to theater, ended up in Japan and her life changed dramatically! Let’s learn more about her.

EARLY LIFE

Dottye Dimple Brown was born on December 3, 1920, in Texarkana, Texas to John Spencer Brown and Melody Aletha Bryan. She was the one of seven children, five boys and two girls – her older brothers were Jerell, born on October 15, 1904, Algie Dee, born on March 8, 1910, Buell, O.D. and Doyle, and a younger sister, Peggy. Her father was a successful contractor and home builder.

The family moved to Shereveport, Louisiana in 1924 and stayed there for good. Dottye grew up as a a true southern belle in Shreveport, in a loving and supportive family. She graduated from Byrd high school and attended Centenary college, and was part of a sorority.

Dottye had a strong yen for acting, and after graduating from college, she got started on the road to Hollywood by acting in the local Little Theater productions. She was quite successful, as she won a minor Juvenile role In “Ah Wilderness” and got her notice on the front page of a local newspaper. She continued this with a number of Shreveport Little Theater productions including “The Barretts of Wimpole Street”. She also won the title of “Miss Louisiana” in 1946. However, this was hardly enough to make a living, so Dottye also served as a hostess for Delta Air Lines and a receptionist at radio station KWKH.

Here is a article about how Dottye ended up in Hollywood:

Louisiana’s latest offering to Hollywood, Dottye D. Brown, Shreveport, began her evening of triumph an intent contestant before a microphone, reading her lines with Bob Wayne. An actor in the Jimmie Davis film, Wayne read with the 27 girls who competed here Wednesday night in the finals of the statewide search for a Louisiana girl to play in the movie. Second photo, the vivacious brunette hears her name read as winner of the contest, which carried prizes of a Monogram studio contract, a trip to Cuba, and a diamond ring, award from a local jewelry store. Behind her, two local contestants, Evelyn Clair Hollis, left, Bossier City, and Patsy Harris, Shreveport, beam their approval of the judges’ choice. Third photo, Dottye thanks everyone who helped her to Hollywood, while Fred Messenger, casting director for Monogram studio, looks approvingly at the newest addition to his talent list. Messenger told Dottye to finish her work in the Little Theater production of “The Barretts of Wimpole Street,” then “report to him. Fourth photo, she signs the contract that Messenger held for her. “I’m too excited to read it, but I’m sure it’s all right,” was her comment on this official business. Then she asked her brother Algie D. Brown, an attorney, to check it for her. The youngest of seven children, Dottye is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Brown, 865 Julia. Fifth photo, she admires the ring that Charlie Mitchell, executive assistant to Governor Davis, slipped on her finger. Her brother Algie looks on. Yesterday things were still a bit unreal to Dottye. The trip to Cuba, her gift from Shreveport Jaycees, will be made before she goes to Hollywood, if her schedule works out correctly.

And off she went!

CAREER

Dottye signed right away for a Poverty row studio, and appeared in mostly low budget movies. You can find real gems hidden in there, but it seems that Dottye’s offers were not that outstanding.

She was ushered to Hollywood to play a role in Louisiana, a semi musical semi biographical drama about the rocky but always interesting life of a young artistically inclined Jimmie Davis. When you read the summary, you head will spin from all the stuff that happened to our Jimmie! First he was a poor boy, but then finished college, but started singing, also became a court clerk, then became a politician, then fought against rackets… Colorful for sure! Sadly, the movie is so obscure today it doesn’t have any IMDB reviews and I can’t gauge at how the public perceived it at the time. But they really did so some PR stunts to get as publicity as they could. Stars on the Shreveport, LA, premiere junket included Gale Storm, June Preisser, John Gallaudet, Roddy McDowall, Freddie Stewart, Dottye and producer Lindsley Parsons. They sure made a big hullabaloo around it!

The studio liked Dottye and signed her for further roles. Next up was a something that low budget studios did often – low budget western! Song of the Wasteland doesn’t sound too promising, nor does the leading man, who I never heard of (I’m far from being an expert, but know the most famous low budget cowboys, and Jimmy Wakley ain’t one of them). The plot sounds like a typical good guy versus the greedy guys, in a word, nothing spectacular but fine enough for that kind of a movie I guess (taken from IMDB):

Ranger Jimmy Wakely joins a medicine show heading for Buffalo Flats. The vigilantes there have been evicting innocent ranchers and he has been sent to investigate. The evicted ranchers blame Steve Crane the head of the vigilantes but Jimmy soon learns that his assistant Lance Bennett is the culprit. But before Jimmy can get evidence against Bennett, he is framed and put in jail. Sadly, as with most

Unfortunately, Dottye’s moments of featured roles ended here. She appeared int two more movie,s and both were uncredited. The first one was Campus Sleuth, a typical young people play detective movie, and this time on a college campus. What makes it a kind of a old Hollywood memorabilia is that a famous vaudeville artist, Mildred Jorman–Little Miss Cornshucks, appeared and sang in it. It’s her only video recorded performance. It seems that a lot of people want to see it for this reason alone, sadly it’s only available tough private channels and not officially up for purchase. The movie seems to be a cookie cutter one, more or less the same as many of Monogram flicks of that time.

Dottye’s last movie was Incident, a solid B class noir. Warren Douglas plays a regular guy who turns down a ride, misses his bus and decides to walk and things start to happen to him. He gets mixed up for someone else, get beaten and decides to investigate. Things get messy pretty soon, but alas he meets a woman, played by Jane Frazee, who becomes his love interest. The plot is convoluted in places and it’s a tight budgeted movie, but does raise some interesting questions about how seemingly small decisions can change our life (or do they?). All in all, noir fans would enjoy this one!

That was all from Dottye!

PRIVATE LIFE

While living in Hollywood, Dottye resided in a studio club and enjoyed acting for it’s own sake, and also never lost her love for the theater.

Here is a short newspaper bit about Dottye:

Hollywood has kept this chic southern miss busy. At home, in Shreveport, she often played in the Little . Theater and she still loves the stage. She has accepted a part an a forthcoming church production of “The Happy Journey” here. Also, her studio has prescribed weekly lessons with a dramatic coach for her. Dottye is an attractive, blue-eyed, former sorority :girl. Any success she may have in pictures won’t change her very much, she’s sure. Publicists made one change, however, the first day she was at the studio. They lopped three years off her age to make her a fashionable 23

Just when you tough, yeah, she’s gong for a movie career, life intervened and things change! Dottye changed from movie acting to radio production work. Here is how:

 Dottye Brown Signs Radio Contract Shreveport’s Dottye Brown now working in Hollywood has signed a contract to appear on the Hank McCune radio comedy show aired over the National Broadcasting Co network according to information received here McCune considered one of the leading West Coast radio comedians will have his program broadcast nationally in the fall . Dottye was persuaded to Join the radio program after McCune’ saw her in a show presented at the Hollywood Bowl.

In 1948 Dottye went to Japan to organize and direct shows for a special service group providing entertainment for American army and air corps personnel overseas for the fifth United States air force at Kagoya. There she met Lieut. John Roeland Mason of the United States Air Force. They were smitten with each other and married on June 18, 1948 in St. Luke’s chapel in Tokyo, with a reception at The American club. Following their marriage, the couple remained In Tokyo where John was to be stationed for another year. The family finally returned to the US in 1951. They lived for a time in Texas, where John was stationed in the Lackland Air Force base.

The couple’s first child was born in Tokyo, daughter Sharon. After moving around from base to base (living for a time in Berlin, Germany and Biloxi, Mississippi), the family settled in Burlingame, California, where their three younger children were born: Sally Ann (October 13, 1956), Michael (June 14, 1954) and Stephen. Dottye had given up her career for marital bliss, but she acted on the side when she could.

Sadly, in 1967, Dottye’s son Michael, only 13 years old, died from a heart disease. The Masons became active charity donors and tireless workers for the foundation that takes care of coronary patients.

Dottye and John had a wonderful marriage and were very devoted to each other. After his retirement they moved to Rancho Murietta, CA, where they spent their golden years, moving to Sacramento at some point.

Dottye Brown Mason died on December 20, 2003, in Sacramento. Her widower John Mason died on January 15, 2006.

One response

  1. One of your best and most detailed profiles. Dottye is indeed obscure today, but she apparently lived a good and happy life. Solid family support apparently helped. I’ll try to track down her films!

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