Day 26 of Noirvember: Dorothys You Should Know — Part II

Ever heard of Dorothy Patrick?

During her brief heyday, she appeared with such luminaries as Robert Taylor, Wallace Beery and Loretta Young, and she was featured in three films noirs (with an uncredited part in a fourth). But after just 12 years, Patrick retired from the screen and, like her fellow Dorothy (Hart), she’s all but forgotten today. On day 26 of Noirvember, I’m aiming to right that wrong.

Patrick was born Dorothy Davis on June 3, 1924, in St. Boniface, Manitoba, a Canadian province near Winnipeg. As a child, she appeared on local radio stations and modeled children’s clothing, and at the age of 13, she won her first beauty pageant. A few years later, after winning her second beauty contest – Miss Winnipeg – Dorothy moved to New York and landed a modeling job with John Robert Powers. Before long, she was appearing on billboards and magazine covers nationwide, and became a familiar face as a Chesterfield Girl, one of the models used by the cigarette company in its ads. As a lark, she entered Jesse Lasky’s Gateway to Hollywood radio contest and, out of 2,000 entrants in the New York region, Dorothy emerged as the winner.

With William Lundigan in Follow Me Quietly.

Dorothy turned down her movie contract prize to marry New York Ranger hockey star Lynn Patrick and have a son, Lester, but the union didn’t last and after her divorce, Dorothy headed for Hollywood. She didn’t quite take the town by storm, however, and was only able to secure a bit part in an RKO musical comedy. Dorothy returned to Canada, honing her craft in radio and little theater, then returned to Hollywood in 1945, signing a contract with MGM. After a lead role in Boys’ Ranch (1946), with James Craig, Dorothy next appeared opposite Robert Walker as the wife of composer Jerome Kern in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946). The following year, she was seen in a small but pivotal role in her first noir, The High Wall (1947), in which she played the murdered wife of an ex-pilot (Robert Taylor), who is accused of killing her.

Patrick played the second female lead in 711 Ocean Drive.

After a featured role in Alias a Gentleman (1948), a comedy co-starring Wallace Beery, Dorothy returned to the dark side with Follow Me Quietly (1949). Here, she plays a reporter for a sleazy magazine who is determined to get the inside scoop about a serial killer who is terrorizing a small town. This rather creepy noir was followed by a loan-out to 20th Century Fox for Come to the Stable (1949), with Loretta Young and Celeste Holm, which was a hit with critics as well as audiences. But she then left MGM and signed with Republic Studios where, in 1950, she was seen in a series of forgettable films. Her only non-Republic film that year was her best, and her final film noir, Columbia’s 711 Ocean Drive. In this well-done picture, Dorothy played Trudy Maxwell, a secretary who loves and loses (to Joanne Dru) a technology-savvy telephone repairman who gets rich when he takes over a wire service.

Discover Dorothy.

A bit weary of her back-to-back filmmaking schedule, Dorothy briefly abandoned her career and found work as a personnel interviewer and counselor for industrial concerns. But this didn’t last, and in 1952, she was back on screen, starring with Tim Holt in a so-so Western, Road Agent, and playing bit parts in two big-budget MGM films, Scaramouche (1952) and Singin’ in the Rain (1952). Although her career seemed to be headed in the wrong direction, though, Dorothy seemed to take a matter-of-fact view of her experience: “There have been both ups and downs in both the pictures and the assignments I’ve had,” she said in 1954. “I have yet to experience that perfect coordination which means complete success – the ideal assignment in the smash hit.” But during the next few years, Patrick failed to capture that “perfect coordination,” and in 1955, she retired from films.

Away from the big screen, Dorothy focused on philanthropic and liberal causes, and later ecame vice president of her son’s consulting firm. In the mid-1980s, Dorothy was diagnosed with cancer and in May 1987, just days before her 66th birthday, she died at the UCLA Medical Center. At the time of her death, she had been working on her memoirs.

With just over 30 films in 12 years, Dorothy Patrick never managed to achieve the level of stardom that seemed within her reach at the start of her career. Still, she appeared in a number of cinematic gems and left her mark in the world of film noir with roles in three fine films. Do yourself a favor and get to know Dorothy Patrick.

And join me tomorrow for Day 27 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 26, 2019.

3 Responses to “Day 26 of Noirvember: Dorothys You Should Know — Part II”

  1. I remember her in Lonely Heart Bandits, Torch Song and Violent Saturday

  2. I always enjoyed seeing her in movies !

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