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Sylvia Dolores FinkelsteinBorn: Friday 30th November 1923
Died: Wednesday 26th June 2002 (age: 78)
Dolores Gray was an American actress and singer. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical twice, winning once.
Born as Sylvia Dolores Finkelstein (but known by Sylvia Dolores Vernon growing up) to Barbara Marguerite Gray (born Marguerite Gray) and Harry Vernon Finkelstein (Stage Name Harry Vernon) in Los Angeles, California. Both her mother and father were Vaudeville actors - which is how they met. Gray's parents divorced when she was a young child. Dolores had an older brother, Richard Gray (born Richard Vernon), who also had a career in Hollywood. While attending Polytechnic High School she was in the Girls' Glee Club. She was 'discovered' by Rudy Vallee, who gave her a guest spot on his nationwide radio show. Dolores Gray was briefly signed with MGM, appearing in Kismet (1955) and It's Always Fair Weather (1955).
Her career commenced as a cabaret artiste in restaurants and supper clubs in San Francisco. In 1945 she appeared in her own radio program. While she was appearing in Annie Get Your Gun in London (1947 – 1950), she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1948. As a fundraiser to help rebuild the RADA theatre, she appeared as Nell Gwynne in In Good King Charles's Golden Days at Drury Lane Theatre (Oct 1948). She appeared at the London Palladium in 1958 while doing a concert tour of Europe and in cabaret at The Talk of the Town in February 1963.
Among her many stage roles, she appeared in Two on the Aisle (1951), Carnival In Flanders (1953); Destry Rides Again (1959); Sherry! (1967); and 42nd Street (1986). She also performed the lead role in Annie Get Your Gun in its first London production (1947).
Gray won the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her role in Carnival in Flanders, even though this Broadway musical, with a script by Preston Sturges, ran for only six performances. She therefore holds a record that is unlikely to be broken: briefest run in a performance which still earned a Tony.
Portraying a singing and dancing stage actress, she appeared with Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall in the highly successful film Designing Woman (1957), as his former mistress. During her successful music career, she sang Marilyn Monroe's part on the Decca Records soundtrack album of There's No Business Like Show Business (1954).
She was best known for her theatre roles. She recalled once, "What a gift that would be to have more of a permanent record. A stage performance is just that, then it's lost. When I see movies on TV, I think, 'How great to have that.' But why look back? The decisions I made, I made. I can't change that."
Theatre critic Michael Phillips wrote Gray's voice sounded like "a freight-train slathered in honey".
On September 24, 1966, Dolores Gray married Andrew J. Crevolin, a California businessman and Thoroughbred racehorse owner who won the 1954 Kentucky Derby. Despite erroneous reports in the media that they divorced, they remained married until his death in 1992. The union was childless.
Gray died of a heart attack in Manhattan, aged 78.