Lady Be Good: The Life and Times of Dorothy Hale

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In Lady Be Good: The Life and Times of Dorothy Hale, Pamela Hamilton, a former producer for NBC, tells the fascinating tale of how Dorothy Hale claims the love and affection of her fans, rising to become one of the most acclaimed and admired women of the early 1900s. As a young girl, she aspires to be a dancer, despite her parents’ discouragement and her father’s plea for her to seek a profession of greater nobility. At sixteen, she escapes to Broadway for a three-week getaway, eager to taste the excitement it has to offer. By 1925, after two years as a showgirl, she enters the stage to star in her first Broadway musical production, Lady Be Good. It’s an overnight success and opens the door to a future of hope and promise. She dines with the likes of Fred Astaire, Cole Porter, and others of celebrity status. She falls in love with a well-respected stockbroker, Galliard Thomas, and though he’s successful and amicable, a destabilizing silence soon develops between them that ultimately robs them of happiness and results in the severing of their union.

Gardner Hale, a skilled, warm-hearted portrait painter, who is ten years Hale’s senior, falls wholeheartedly for her and she for him. They marry and spend a few picturesque years together before a car accident tragically takes his life. When she finally recovers from the grief that’s bereaved her days and nights of pleasure, shadowy political figures denigrate her path. In a terrible twist of fate, her last breath is taken in the early morning hours of October 1, 1938.

This book is delicately woven into a masterpiece of fact and fiction. Hamilton carefully separates the two in her “Author’s Note” for those who wish to view them through disparate lenses. Love and loss, courage and fear, and loyalty and betrayal are all at the heart of this story. Self-discovery, fame, and the ires that so often accompany it are stitched within its framework as well.

Hamilton illuminates Hale’s life in its entirety. She shares the intimate details of her friendship with Clare Booth Luce, whose overpowering desire for success drives her to unconscionable means. She also touches on her closeness to a variety of other starlets, including one of Ernest Hemingway’s loves.

Hamilton writes with eloquence and precision. She has an amazing gift for figurative language, creating imagery that unfolds seamlessly (i.e., “…swirling up to the pink sky of dawn, then drifting away in the cool breath of the wind”).  Her words flow with grace and ease, inviting readers into the depths of her narrative.

Hamilton sheds light on the events that lead up to the end of a celebrated life. Though it’s documented Hale committed suicide when she catapulted from the window of her sixteenth floor suite, Hamilton sketches a detailed picture of her last days and hours that lend insight into a potentially different cause of death. She notes that Hale is followed relentlessly in her last days, and on the morning of her passing, her apartment is broken into, and a knife is held to her neck minutes before her demise. Though it’s not definitive someone killed her, it certain seems plausible. The extensive research and care Hamilton took in writing this account is unquestionable. Hale once said in reference to fear, “…I’m most afraid of being forgotten someday.” This is a notable contribution to her legacy as well as to literature and ensures her greatest fear won’t be realized.


Reviewed By:

Author Pamela Hamilton
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 298 pages
Publisher Koehler Books
Publish Date 31-Mar-2021
ISBN 9781646632725
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue October 2021
Category Historical Fiction
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