Dorothy Lovett is a nice twist on the usual trope – she was a model who became an actress, based mostly on her looks, but before that, she was actually an actress who became an model because she couldn’t find thespian work. Dorothy actually had a pretty decent career in Hollywood, being featured prominently in a popular movie serial of the day, but gave up her career in order to raise family.
Let’s learn more about her!
Dorothy Elizabeth Lovett was born on February 15, 1913, in Providence, Rhode Island, to William Francis Lovett and Katherine E. Galligan. She was the youngest of three children and the only daughter – her siblings were William, born in 1909, and Thomas, born in 1910. Her father was a letter carrier (postman).
Dorothy grew up in Providence in a happy family unit. had some early stage experience, as this story can attest:
Dorothy Lovett made a false start as an actress at the age of 5, with the Albee stock company. Burton Churchill was the star, and Dorothy was the little girl who got kidnaped in Only a Woman. Looking back at it now, she regards her earlier self with awe and wonderment because little Miss Lovett was bored by show business. She also was temperamental. After about the second performance, she began to sulk in the wings and refuse to go on until bribed with a new toy a football or a fire truck or a baseball bat. One evening she embellished her role by falling down a flight of stairs in the second act. Her two idolatrous brothers in the audience dashed down the aisle to her rescue and were halted only as they were trying to clamber over the musicians.
Dorothy gave up acting for the time being, attending elementary and high school, and devoting her time to becoming a top notch athlete. She became a typical tomboy, spending a great deal of her time in treetops, hacked off all her hair to be more mobile. Pretty soon, she was the fastest broken-field runner in her neighborhood. Her life changed one day in high school, when she was struck on the larynx by a hard-hit baseball. She fainted from the shock, and afterwards decided to change lanes in life once more.
After she graduated from high school, Dorothy started to attend Pembroke college, and there she got feminine touches. She also got back into acting again – she didn’t have any interest in the matter until she, by pure chance, got a speaking part in a little theater play, and slowly, bit by bit, upped the scale. She did some summer theater, and ultimately decided to try her hand in showbiz for a living. After graduation, not being able to secure acting roles, she worked as a model. In a strange twist of fate, her first job was conducting a recipe program on the air. Dorothy at the time couldn’t cook, but she developed such a convincing manner on her cooking program that thousands’ of listeners would rush to their kitchens and do just what she told them. Pretty soon Dorothy progressed to a program about fashions, which she really knew something about. As time went by, Dorothy became a very successful model – she was voted the most beautiful model in New York City in 1940/41.
All the while, she tried to getting roles but failed. Finally she heard about an interview for John Powers models that RKO was holding. The fact that she was not a Powers model did not deter her. The movie scouts saw her, liked what they saw, and she got her RKO contract. Thus her career started!
Dorothy started her career with Twelve Crowded Hours, a very minor Lucille Ball movie, a crime comedy by genre. In fact, it’s hardy a Lucy movie at all, although she does play the leading female role, but she relegated to being a second banana to leading man, Richard Dix, a reported who’s tracing Lucy’s wayward brother. Nothing special, not bad but not really memorable. Next came something a bit more impressive – The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, one of the Rogers/Astaire pairings. What to say, these movies are classics and remain a staple of the genre and 1930s in general. Then came The Flying Irishman, an unusual movie where aviator Douglas Corrigan stars as himself “accidentally” flying across the ocean to Ireland. Corrigan got some fame in 1938 when this happened, and the movie was made in to cash that fame, since Corrigan is hardly known today, except to hard-core enthusiast. Corrigan, who was not a thespian by any stretch of imagination (albeit in possession of an easy, affable charm), was supported by an able body of RKO staples – Paul Kelly, Donald McBride, Robert Armstrong…
Dorothy then appeared in Fixer Dugan, a Lee Tracy/Peggy Shannon teaming, with Virginia Wielder, where they play a couple of circus people who develop a deep affection for orphaned girl, Wielder, who mother just died in an aerial accident. Tracy was a specific actor who excelled playing smooth talking conman with just some traces of morality, and he’s always tops playing those roles, no matter the movie nor the story. As you can guess, he plays the fixer. The movie was sadly a B class affair, and Peggy Shannon not the greatest of all leading ladies, but she is cute and pert, Virginia is perky and heartwarming, and we get to see how a circus lived in the 1930s. Dorothy’s last uncredited role before breakthrough was in These Glamour Girls, a biting social satire disguised as a frilly upper class comedy. Lew Ayres plays a preppy boy who, by drunken design, invites a taxi dancer to his all-too-snobbish elite school and she unintentionally causes havoc. This is a role I think Lana Turner played best – naughty but nice independent woman who fight for themselves and know their way around men. She was very often miscast as a upper class lady – she never and could never be one, she just didn’t’ have the sheen, but had plenty of other attributes. The cast is outstanding, Turner, Ayres, Ann Rutherford, Anita Louise, Billie Burke.
Dorothy’s claim to fame was her role in the Dr. Christian series of movies, where she played nurse Judy in five movies – Meet Dr. Christian, The Courageous Dr. Christian, Dr. Christian Meets the Women,Remedy for Riches, They Meet Again. Whoever loved medical series will probably like this more wholesome and slightly naïve take on the profession. Christian is played by Jean Hersholt, and his support is good – Robert Baldwin, Edgar Kennedy, and a string of players from the RKO supporting roster.
Between Dr. Christian movies, Dorothy appear in an odd-RKO feature. The first one was That’s Right – You’re Wrong, a Kay Kyser vehicle, where Kyser plays himself trying to make it in Hollywood. The plot is very thin, but the music is nice if you like Kyser, and there are some good supporting players – Adolphe Menjou, May Robson, Lucille Ball. Next Dorothy had a role in the movie serial The Green Hornet Strikes Again! – about the legendary Green Hornet character.
Dorothy played a prominent role in Lucky Devils, a completely forgotten movie that doesn’t even have a summary on IMDB. Luckily, her next movie, Look Who’s Laughing, was better known, featuring Fibber McGee and Molly and Edgar Bergen. It’s a typical silly comedy, but for anyone who loved either the McGees or Charlie McCarthy will enjoy it immensely. More nostalgia than art, but who’s asking?
Dorothy had an okay role in Call Out the Marines but it didn’t really help her career. As one reviewer perfectly wrote in IMDB: The tail end of McLagen and Lowe’s adventures as Flagg and Quirt from WHAT PRICE GLORY (the names are marginally changed) is a piece of production line entertainment that turns the battling buddies into Abbott & Costello substitutes complete with another undercranked chase for a finale. Too bad, those are two very talented actors. Sing Your Worries Away was another comedy, just this time with Bert Lahr and his own very specific brand of funny. You either like or don’t like him – his movies are mostly just for those who like him.
Next up – Powder Town, a low budget movie in it’s own category. Perhaps it can be called a SF-comedy-propaganda movie, it mixes a few genres so it’s impossible to really mark it down into one. Edmund O’Brien, who later in his career became a top class noir actor, plays against type here – he’s a scatterbrained, nutty scientist working on a secret formula for explosives. Then add some spies into the mix, and the fact that O’Brien is hot commodity, desired by all the women who live in his hotel. Vic McLagen plays his brawling sidekick, and he’s as good as always in such roles. Dorothy’s last RKO movie was The Mantrap, a very witty and funny mystery movie, with Henry Stephenson playing a Sherlock Holmes-like detective solving a murder. Lloyd Corrigan, known today as a B western hero, plays his Watson substitute, and the two make a dandy and very appealing companions. Too bad they didn’t make a movie serial out of it.
Dorothy gave up her RKO contract to get married. She gave acting another go in the 1950s, appeared in TV series, and made another movie in 1960, Why Must I Die?, a weird little Debra Paget movie, conceived as a critique of capital punishment. 1950s brought with them an unusual genre (which did exist before, but not so prominently) – the sleazy, lurid movie, usually featuring young actors and actresses, often bordering on camp. Why must I die is one of those movies, a late 1950s relic, with little to recommend it except the over-the-top story and acting.
Dorothy’s last movie was one of her best, A Patch of Blue. The leads, Sidney Poitier and Elizabeth Hartman are both excellent in their roles – she plays a blind young woman, neglected and abused by her rough mother (played by Shelley Winters), and he is a idealistic African American teacher – she slowly falls for him without knowing his skin color, and when her mother finds out, all hell breaks loose. A very relevant movie, even today, with wonderful performances and plenty of positive subtext, it’s truly a 1960s classic.
And that was it from Dorothy!
Dorothy was famous in Hollywood for her good looks, and Motion Picture Fan Club voted her the most beautiful girl in B pictures. She was good friends with fellow actress Margaret Hayes.
In 1940 Dorothy started to date Jack Hively, best known as Gloria Swanson’s director. The got engaged in 191 and planned to wed that December, but Hively’s enlistment in the Army Signal Corps and they had to change plans. In the end they married on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1942, in Patterson Field, where Hively was stationed. The base was decorated with many lovely flower arrangements to make it more in sync for a wedding revenue. Now something about the groom. Jack Besden Hively was born on September 5, 1910, in Denver, Colorado, to George and Georgenie Hively. His father was an Academy Award-nominated editor, and his brother, George Jr., would become a television editor. Jack grew up in an artistical environment, and when his family moved to California, he decided to go into showbiz himself. He worked at RKO from 1933, first as a editor, then, starting in 1939, as a director.
The couple were pressed for time – since Dorothy was working at RKO, she was given two weeks off to get married and have a honeymoon, So they decided to honeymoon in vicinity of Patterson Field. Dorothy cut short her honeymoon and rushed hack to the coast to tell her sailor brother goodbye— only to find him gone when she got here. See then returned to established a permanent home in Osborn. Hively started working with the training film unit of the signal corps place.
Hively later served under General MacArthur in the Pacific Theater, all the while Dorothy worked back home, and was active in the war effort, selling war bonds and touring. After Jack was discharged from the army, he returned to Hollywood, where the couple settled. Their daughter Katherine Gordon Hively was born on December 8, 1945. Dorothy took some time off to devote herself to family life and only occasionally returned to acting.
Hively and Dorothy divorced in the mid 1950s, about 1955, and Hively later remarried, in 1958, to Muriel Bixby. He died on December 19, 1995, in California.
Dorothy chose not to remarry, remained living in California, and retired to Sherman Oaks, where she spent her golden years.
Dorothy Hively died on April 28, 1998, in Sherman Oaks, California.