Little-Known Facts About Dinah Shore, The Loveless American Sweetheart

April 12, 2024 | J. Clarke

Little-Known Facts About Dinah Shore, The Loveless American Sweetheart

This American sweetheart dazzled the country with music hits like “Buttons and Bows” and an impressive TV career. But behind all the glitz and glamor, Dinah Shore hid the details of a turbulent life.

1. She Barely Survived

Born Frances “Fanny” Rose Shore in 1916, she faced a huge life challenge before she even turned two years old. At just eighteen months, doctors diagnosed her with polio. The disease rendered the child unable to move and sentenced her to a life of painful bed rest. Luckily for her, her mother didn’t take the doctors’ word for it.


2. Her Mom Saved Her

Rather than leave her child to an unfulfilled life without movement, her mother took it upon herself to see to her rehabilitation. She engaged Shore’s affected limbs with massage and exercise, eventually bringing her close to full recovery. The disease left her with a life-long limp, but sadly, this wasn't her only childhood struggle. 

Image of Dinah Shore at Billboard Music Yearbook - 1944Billboard 1944 Music Yearbook, Wikimedia Commons

3. She Didn’t Fit In

Shore struggled to blend in when she was growing up because she looked much different than the other girls in her Tennessee neighborhood. Born to Jewish parents, she often felt her culture made her stand out in the wrong way—that is, until she figured out that standing out might just be the best thing she could ever do.

Dinah Shore in Billboard Music Yearbook - 1943Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

4. She Started Young

At a young age, Shore recognized she loved to sing. Her parents fostered her love for it, with her father even letting her host mini concerts for customers at the store he owned. With her disease healed, things seemed to be shaping up for her. To her total surprise, though, one more impending tragedy came to derail her completely.

Dinah Shore At France - 1944US Army,Wikimedia Commons

5. She Lost Her

Still in her teens, Shore lost her mother to a heart attack. The loss likely affected her deeply, but she somehow managed to go on. She created an active life for herself at Vanderbilt University. Even during her studies, though, Shore had much bigger dreams, and seemed willing to do whatever she had to do to achieve them.

Vanderbilt University - Home Economics Building (Nashville, Tennessee) - 2021cmh2315fl, Flickr

6. She Changed

During her college summers, Shore took off to New York City to try her luck as a singer. She landed a few gigs, and often sang the same song at auditions, “Dinah”. When a DJ couldn’t remember her name at one of these auditions, he called her “Dinah girl”. The name stuck, and she held to the new persona as she leapt into the murky unknown. 

Dinah Shore at Billboard Music Yearbook - 1944Billboard 1944 Music Yearbook, Wikimedia Commons

7. She Flopped

Once she graduated and moved to NYC full time, Shore likely didn’t expect to fail at her first major auditions. In the thick of the Big Band era of American music, joining a band seemed an obvious first choice. Unfortunately, she just couldn’t impress them enough to land a spot. She decided to take things in a totally different direction.

Dinah Shore at Radio Album no. 1 cover - 1942Wikimedia Commons, Picryl

8. She Took A Risk

Shore made the tricky choice to go solo. Solo artists are popular in our contemporary times, but back then, very few solo artists actually saw much success. She started small, landing a gig on the radio in 1939. Audiences fell in love with her, seemingly in a whirlwind. She rose faster than many thought a solo artist could. 

Dinah Shore singing - 1952Radio-TV Mirror, Picryl

9. She Hit It Big

For the next few years, Shore continued to sing on the radio, which soon led to a recording deal. She made several hit singles, her music topping charts at each turn. But it wasn’t just the music—people loved her bubbly nature and welcoming personality. Before long, she caught the attention of a man that she couldn’t deny.

Dinah Shore at Billboard magazine - circa 1950Columbia Records, Wikimedia Commons

10. She Fell Hard

Just as her career began to take off, Shore met actor George Montgomery. There’s not much to report about the beginning of their romance, but what remains is sweet. Reportedly, he fell in love with the same Shore her fans adored and she fell right along with him. They married in 1943, but that didn’t mean a happily ever after. 

Dinah Shore With George Montgomery - 1960Dell Publishing, Wikimedia Commons

11. She Crossed Over

Shore’s star continued its meteoric rise. She crossed over from music into film, and eventually into television as well. For nearly two decades, it seemed everything she touched turned to gold in the entertainment industry, with her hits doing record numbers. But behind the scenes, Shore's home life slowly but surely began to fall apart.

Photograph of Dinah Shore in the CBS studios - 1945CBS Radio, Wikimedia Commons

12. The Cracks Started To Show

Montgomery and Shore seemed very dedicated to their marriage and family. They brought two children into the family, including one adopted child. And as far as Hollywood families went, theirs seemed picture perfect. But beneath the surface, something dark lurked, and it all started with Shore’s wild success.

Dinah Shore at Billboard Music Yearbook - 1943Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

13. He Didn’t Feel Good Enough

The details surrounding the way their marriage fell apart vary. But some reports indicate that Montgomery started to take issue with his wife’s work. He worked as an actor, but his success didn’t hold a candle to that of his wife’s. In essence, he lived as “Dinah Shore’s husband”. Eventually, it all became too much for him.

George Montgomery - in ''Roxy Hart'' 1942John Irving, Flickr

14. The Rumors Grew

Things got worse when rumors about infidelity started to press in on the couple. In 1961, Montgomery traveled abroad to film the movie Samar with the notably gorgeous Ziva Rodann as leading lady. Montgomery likely traveled to work throughout the marriage several times. But this time, the news coming back to Shore allegedly broke her heart.

Publicity photo of George Montgomery - circa 1940smovie studio, Wikimedia Commons

15. He Fell For Someone Else

While their affair remains unconfirmed, reports of a torrid affair taking place between Montgomery and his co-star littered the tabloids. People close to Shore said the news broke her, as her husband also neglected to keep contact with her during this trip. Even worse, many reported that Rodann was not his first indulgence. 

Publicity photo of Israeli actress Ziva Rodann - 1961eBay listing, Wikimedia Commons

16. He Wanted The Attention

Reports allege Montgomery also involved himself with another Hollywood beauty, Diana McBain. These affairs supposedly pressed on Shore’s greatest insecurities, as she didn’t see herself as anywhere near as beautiful as these movie stars. On the flip side of this whole situation, though, Shore reportedly got caught up in her own steamy entanglements…

Photo of Diane McBain as Daphne Dutton - 1962ABC Television, Wikimedia Commons

17. She Had Her Secrets

Although she’s never confirmed it, some reports claim she engaged in a longtime affair with another famous singer, Frank Sinatra. They allegedly did so in the 1950s, halfway into her marriage. At least one memoir on Sinatra affirms this, and with the way of Hollywood, it’s not hard to imagine that Montgomery heard about it. Either way, their end seemed imminent.

Publicity photo of Frank Sinatra - 1940s.Wikimedia Commons, Picryl

18. They Cooked Up A Story

When they divorced in 1962, Montgomery and Shore came out with their own explanation. They insisted their demanding jobs just made them grow apart. This is definitely possible—as possible as it is that they made up that story to hide something more salacious. Unfortunately for Shore, her marriage didn’t end up being all she lost that year.

George Montgomery And Dinah Shore - 1953Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

19. They Dropped Her

Amongst all the stress of the end of her marriage, Capitol Records dropped Shore from their label. Granted, her success in the music industry began to wane over time. But even so, her debut did so well that even the wane was still notably successful. Perhaps it’s just what she needed, though, judging by ner next unexpected move.

Dinah Shore from the film Till the Clouds Roll By - 1946Film screenshot, Wikimedia Commons

20. She Disappeared

Shore took a step back from the limelight after the divorce, and stayed that way right up through 1970. While reports indicate she did so to focus on raising the children she now cared for as a divorced mother, it’s quite possible she just needed the time to recoup. That kind of rapid success could weigh on anyone. 

She stayed busy, though, in ways that might surprise you. 

Promotional still for Make Mine Music with Dinah Shore - 1947Walt Disney Productions, Wikimedia Commons

21. She Moved On Fast

Not long after finalizing her divorce in 1962, Shore married a tennis player named Maurice F Smith. There’s such a thing as a quick romance, but to go from a divorce to a second marriage in about a year definitely seems a bit drastic. The details of the beginning of their romance are mostly unconfirmed, unlike the details of the relationship itself.

Dinah Shore playing tennis in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. - 1971Roy Erickson, Wikimedia Commons

22. He Tried To Control Her

Shore probably came to regret the speed with which she married Smith, judging by the things she claimed about him later on. For one, she reported her new husband to be very controlling, so much so that she “couldn’t make an independent decision”. Worse than that, she claimed he severely mistreated her. She didn’t put up with it for long. 

Publicity photo of Dinah Shore - 1976CBS, Wikimedia Commons

23. She Failed At Love Again

Less than a year after the wedding, Shore divorced her second husband. She left with nothing kind to say about him, focusing her attention on her children for the next few years. By 1970, with her children much more grown, she finally felt ready to return to entertainment full time. And when she did, she came back with a vengeance. 

Dinah Shore smiling and looking at side - 1944Department of Defense, Wikimedia Commons

24. She Couldn’t Miss

Shore returned to television screens in the 1970s, starring in her own variety show. The audiences loved her and her unique interactions with celebrities. Rather than hosting sit-down interviews, she encouraged her guests to teach her and the audience their hidden skills. Once again, her star rose with no sign of stopping. One episode, though, changed her life forever.

Dinah Shore - from Dinah's Place - 1972NBC Television, Wikimedia Commons

25. She Impressed Him

In 1970, Shore welcomed actor Burt Reynolds to an episode of her show, Dinah’s Place. Though still technically at the beginning of his career, Reynolds already boasted several successful television and film roles. More than that, though, he held a strong spot among Hollywood’s hottest male heartthrobs. One look at Shore totally decimated him.

Publicity photo of Burt Reynolds from the television program Dan August - 1972ABC Television, Wikimedia Commons

26. He Fell In Love At First Sight

His instant attraction to Shore probably shocked him. After all, not many 34-year-old men gloated about attractions to women in their fifties. But as Reynolds continued to claim for years following their first encounter, he wanted Shore from the very first time they met. Not only that, but he arrived at her show ready to put his money where his mouth was!

Publicity photo of Burt Reynolds as blacksmith - 1962CBS Television, Wikimedia Commons

27. He Made A Play

Reynolds just couldn’t leave the set without trying for a chance with Shore. He asked her out, and not on just a regular dinner date either. The actor invited her to come with him to Palm Springs to take some time to get to know each other better. That grand invitation might have easily swayed a younger actress away, but Shore? Not impressed. 

Burt Reynolds in The Bard Twilight Zone - 1963CBS Television Network, Wikimedia Commons

28. She Turned Him Down

Perhaps Shore herself found Reynolds too young for her, as she politely declined his elaborate offer. Or maybe she just felt done with men in general. As you’ve seen, she'd already experienced enough heartbreak to last a lifetime. All that life experience aside, though, fate seemed to have other plans. 

Just shortly after their first meeting, they bumped into each other again…

Photo of Dinah Shore dancing and smiling - 1960NBC-photographer, Wikimedia Commons

29. Sparks Flew

This time, neither could deny the chemistry between them. Shore agreed to go out with Reynolds, and found herself falling for him at an alarming rate. It sounds like some type of age-gap fairy tale, but one little detail held the potential to topple the whole thing. That little detail? An actress living in Reynolds home at the time.

Dinah Shore, Miami Book Fair International - 1990MDCarchives, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

30. He Was Taken

Allegedly, Reynolds started dating Miko Mayama, a Japanese actress, some time before he met Shore. “Dating” seems like an understatement, though, as the two lived together. Reports even go so far as to claim that Mayama felt Reynolds planned to propose to her. Now in love with Shore, he needed to make Mayama disappear, and that’s just what he did.

Promotional photo of Burt Reynolds in Riverboat for the series premiere - 1959eBayFront photo Back photo, Wikimedia Commons

31. He Paid Her Off

While it’s not totally confirmed, it seems Reynolds decided to pay Mayama to leave his home and their relationship without making a scene. She left peacefully enough, which makes sense considering the convertible and weekly payment he supposedly promised to give her. With the “ex” out of the way, Reynolds turned his full attention to the woman of his dreams.

Photo of Burt Reynolds smiling and looking at back - 1970ABC Television, Wikimedia Commons

32. They Made An Unlikely Match

Shore and Reynolds spent the next few years together, in a relationship that ultimately became a Hollywood legend. They seemingly just made sense together and enjoyed each other's company. Shore called their time “comfortable” and “ordinary”—and after her past, it’s not hard to understand the appeal, even as the age difference began to show.

Photo of Dinah Shore from the ongoing CBS Television, Wikimedia Commons

33. She Shared Her Wisdom

Compatibility aside, Shore’s maturity still contrasted with Reynolds’ youth. She catered to him when she needed to, even letting him beat her in tennis (she played almost professionally well). When it came to their careers, though, she probably feared a situation like her first marriage, as Reynolds didn’t have nearly as many accolades as she did yet. He proved her wrong. 

A Great New Star: Dinah Shore promotes the new Chevrolets - 1952Jam Handy Organization, Wikimedia Commons

34. He Trusted Her

Reynolds not only praised his partner’s accomplishments, he also looked to her for advice about his own career. He noted himself that he didn’t necessarily always agree with her, but that her suggestions on his career always proved correct over time. Sounds like a match made in heaven. But, as you probably expected, a little hell came their way too.

Photo of Burt Reynolds in the television program Gunsmoke - 1963CBS Television, Wikimedia Commons

35. They Harassed Them

Though the relationship between the two thrived, the noise around them taunted them mercilessly. Tabloids loved to place the two on their covers, calling Shore a cougar and finding all kinds of ways to disparage their union. They mostly managed to ignore the gossip, but in the end, the difference in their ages caused the end of the relationship.

Screenshot of Dinah Shore and Burt Reynolds - from Dinah's Place (1970/74)NBC, Dinah's Place (1970/74)

36. He Wanted More

Reynolds wanted to marry Shore, and made his desire explicit. Furthermore, he wanted to create a family with her. Unfortunately for him, though, she refused to marry him, knowing she couldn’t bear any children at her age. Reynolds felt that easily solved through adoption, but Shore didn’t find that to be the only thing holding them back. 

Photo of Burt Reynolds - 2008Jason Whittaker, Flickr

37. She Felt Too Old

Shore also worried about the experience of aging while with him. In her own words, she didn’t “want to grow old in his arms”. Seemingly, she worried about getting visually older, and probably worried Reynolds would feel less attraction to her as she wrinkled. Tragically, these seemingly minor differences eventually brought their romance to a sad end.

A Great New Star: Dinah Shore promotes the new Chevrolets - 1952Jam Handy Organization, Wikimedia Commons

38. He Pulled The Plug

In the end, Reynolds ultimately broke up with Shore. He couldn’t get past her unwillingness to marry him and adopt a child, and she refused to bend an inch on her decision. The two went their own ways amicably, and Reynolds continued to date and eventually married. But their story wasn't over yet.

Burt Reynolds during Ron Galella, Getty Images

39. They Had A Shocking Televised Moment

In 1981, six years after the couple had called it quits, Shore and Reynolds had quite an awkward reunion on the television special All Star Party for Burt Reynolds. Reynolds surprised the audience by asking his "best friend" to sing a number. The look on Dinah Shore's face when her ex-partner announced her name was unforgettable.

A Great New Star: Dinah Shore promotes the new Chevrolets - 1952Jam Handy Organization, Wikimedia Commons

40. She Sang For Him

Considering the flabbergasted look on her face, Dinah Shore clearly had not expected to be called out by Reynolds. However, she nervously joined him in front of the cameras and sang a heart-wrenching rendition of "The Glory Of Love" while embracing him. The mutual affection still lingered—and by Reynolds' own account, he never truly got over it.

Screenshot of Dinah Shore and Burt Reynolds - from Dinah's Place (1970/74)NBC, Dinah's Place (1970/74)

41. He Regretted It

It seems Shore turned out to be everything she screen showed her audiences, because Reynolds never forgot about her. In fact, he claimed to the end that, even though he married someone else, Shore stood as the love of his life. She always spoke very fondly of their relationship as well. More interestingly, though, it started quite the spicy trend for her.

Screenshot of Dinah Shore and Burt Reynolds - from Dinah's Place (1970/74)NBC, Dinah's Place (1970/74)

42. She Liked ‘Em Young

Reynolds didn’t end up being the only younger man Shore dated. Perhaps word got around that age didn’t hold Shore back at all, as she reportedly went on to date many other famous younger men. Her roster allegedly included actor Ron Ely, singer Andy Williams, and actor Wayne Rogers. Her career shifted a lot over time, too. 

A Great New Star: Dinah Shore promotes the new Chevrolets - 1952Jam Handy Organization, Wikimedia Commons

43. She Did Her Thing 

Throughout the 70s, Shore continued to dazzle on screen while managing to keep it mostly separate from her bevy of beaus. Audiences loved her and the trademark kiss she blew to sign off with at the end of her show. Her performances even won her several Emmys, though one surprising blow followed a particularly notorious Emmy win.

Dinah Shore on Promotional photos 1974 Sergio Franchi Publicity Brochure ,Picryl

44. They Let Her Go

NBC ran Dinah’s Place for several successful seasons in the early 1970s. Still, Shore received an alarming message right after her Emmy win in 1974. In the same telegram they sent to her congratulating her win, they notified her of the show’s immediate cancellation. They claimed they needed the slot for game shows (of all things). It didn’t mean the end of her, though.

Screenshot of Dinah Shore looking at camera - from Dinah's Place (1970/74)NBC, Dinah's Place (1970/74)

45. She Reinvented Herself

Shore came back swinging with the show Dinah! shortly after. Even though it marked a bit of a restart, she managed to bring in excellent numbers, competing with seasoned talk show hosts like Merv Griffin. Her show ran for several more years, and boasted several notable guests, including one famous guest who made a point of speaking to her first.

Screenshot of Dinah Shore looking at side - from Dinah's Place (1970/74)NBC, Dinah's Place (1970/74)

46. She Made A Statement

Shore lived through several notable moments in American history, including the controversial presidency of Ronald Reagan. When the Reagans left the White House in 1989, multiple reporters likely vied for the chance to speak to them. However, Shore landed the very first interview with the first lady. Still, entertainment wasn’t the only place she shined.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan with a group for a TV Christmas special in 1982.White House Photographic Office, Wikimedia Commons

47. She Was An Original 

If you remember Shore's time with Reynolds, you’ll remember their love for playing tennis. While Shore certainly enjoyed that sport and played it well, she also excelled in a sport that women didn’t involve themselves too much with in her time—golf. It started with a request for her to host a tournament, and ended up cemented in sport history.

Screenshot of Dinah Shore looking at side - from Dinah's Place (1970/74)NBC, Dinah's Place (1970/74)

48. She Left Her Mark

After hosting that tournament in 1971 in Beverly Hills, California, Shore became an avid player of the sport, using her influence to encourage other women to play as well. Her influence did so much that the country club named the tournament after her. This looks even more impressive when you realize that Shore shouldn’t have been allowed there in the first place. 

Screenshot of Dinah Shore looking at camera - from Dinah's Place (1970/74)NBC, Dinah's Place (1970/74)

49. She Did It First

Even before the tournament, Shore became the very first woman granted membership at the Hillcrest Country Club. Her wealth and popularity likely played a huge role in this move, but she didn’t take it for granted. She made a point of encouraging other women athletes and members to be permitted at the club. As she grew older, she found even more ways to be great.

Screenshot of Dinah Shore looking at camera - from Dinah's Place (1970/74)NBC, Dinah's Place (1970/74)

50. She Gave Back

Shore found multiple ways to give back during her career. She gave money to multiple causes, including charities for cancer research and children’s health. Furthermore, she established the Dinah Shore Foundation, which continues to serve charities. With her personality, talent, and heart for others, Shore continued to amass accolades to the very end.

Screenshot of Dinah Shore looking at camera - from Dinah's Place (1970/74)NBC, Dinah's Place (1970/74)

51. They Adored Her

Though Shore left her Tennessee hometown for California in her youth, she always maintained her Southern charm and personality. As such, they named a street in her honor, Dinah Shore Boulevard. She also won several spots of honor, including a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars and a spot in the Television Hall of Fame. 

She remained an American favorite until her last breath.

Screenshot of Dinah Shore singing - from Dinah's Place (1970/74)NBC, Dinah's Place (1970/74)

52. She Ended Well

Doctors diagnosed Shore with ovarian cancer in 1993. She succumbed to the disease the very next year. Her family cremated her, spreading her ashes among family members and burying the rest at two memorial cemeteries. Her legacy continues, both through her music and through the many female talk show hosts that walked through doors she opened.

Screenshot of Dinah Shore looking at side - from Dinah's Place (1970/74)NBC, Dinah's Place (1970/74)

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