Saturday, March 16, 2013



From Wikipedia:
Dagmar (born Virginia Ruth Egnor, November 29, 1921 – October 9, 2001) was an American actress, model and television personality of the 1950s. As a statuesque, busty blonde, she became the first major female star of television, receiving much press coverage during that decade.

In 1950, when Lewis was hired by Jerry Lester for NBC's first late-night show 'Broadway Open' House (1950–52), he renamed her Dagmar. Lester devised the name as a satirical reference following the huge success on television of the TV series 'Mama'  (1949–57), in which the younger sister, Dagmar Hansen, was portrayed by Robin Morgan. As Dagmar, Lewis was instructed to wear a low-cut gown, sit on a stool and play the role of a stereotypical dumb blonde. With tight sweaters displaying her curvy 5' 8" figure (measuring 42"-23"-39"), her dim-bulb character was an immediate success, soon attracting much more attention than Lester. 

Lewis quickly showed that regardless of appearances she was quite bright and quick-witted. She appeared in sketches, and Lester made occasional jokes about her "hidden talents." Her appearances created a sensation, leading to much press coverage and a salary increase from $75 to $1,250. With Dagmar getting all the attention, Lester walked off his own show in May 1951, and Dagmar carried on as host. On July 16, 1951, she was featured on the front cover of Life, and the show came to an end one month later.

Dagmar became one of the leading personalities of early 1950s live television, doing sketch comedy on Milton Berle's 'Texaco Star Theater', 'The Bob Hope Show' and other shows. On June 17, 1951, she appeared on the 'Colgate Comedy Hour' with host Eddie Cantor and guests Milton Berle, Phil Foster and Jack Leonard. In 1951, she made a TV guest appearance with Frank Sinatra, which prompted Columbia Records producer Mitch Miller to record a novelty duet with Frank and Dagmar, "Mama Will Bark". That same year, she was featured in a Life cover story with Alfred Eisenstaedt's photo of her on the July 16, 1951 issue. For the interior photo essay, Life photographers followed her to rehearsals and accompanied her on a vacation back to her home town in West Virginia.

In 1952, she hosted the short-lived, prime time 'Dagmar's Canteen', in which she sang, danced, interviewed servicemen and performed comedy routines. The basic premise of the show was that servicemen from the audience were given roles to act alongside Dagmar in sketches. One of Dagmar's sisters, Jean, was a member of the cast of 'Dagmar's Canteen'. Jean, who had previously worked as a chorus girl on Broadway, also served as Dagmar's secretary, handling her sister's fan mail, which sometimes soared to 8000 letters a month. When her television show ended, Dagmar performed in Las Vegas shows and summer stock theater. Liberace spoke glowingly of her in an interview, stating that she had given him his big break as her accompanist early in his career. 

In the 1950s, Dagmar was a regular panelist on the NBC game show, 'Who Said That?', along with H. V. Kaltenborn, Deems Taylor, Frank Conniff, Peggy Ann Garner, and Boris Karloff. She occasionally made guest appearances on such shows as 'What's My Line?', 'The Mike Wallace Interview' and 'Masquerade Party' (disguised as John L. Lewis) and during the 1960s she appeared on 'Hollywood Squares', 'The Mike Douglas Show' and other shows.

'You'll Never Get Rich'
"Bilko's Television Idea"

In the closing moments of 'The Buddy Bickford Show', Dagmar appeared with the host to do a few sketches.....


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