Vintage Palm Springs Blog

Dinah Shore: Palm Springs’ Feminist Icon


Dinah Shore: Palm Springs’ Feminist Icon

by Diana Castellanos.

If you call yourself a feminist, and you don't know who Dinah shore is...WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING WITH YOURSELF?

We only say that because when it comes to our beloved Palm Springs and women, Dinah Shore is ya girl.

To give origin behind the girl who would end up having a huge pride-like lesbian Party named after her, Francis Rose Shore was born in Winchester, Tennessee to Russian-Jewish parents, Anna and Solomon Shore. Unfortunately, at the age of sixteen, Shore's mother died of a heart attack. Amidst the challenges and obstacles in her life, she continued her educational path and graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1938 with a degree in sociology. She married her then-husband George Montgomery from 1943 to 1962 and had her daughter, Melissa Montgomery on January 1948. Shore also adopted a son Jody Montgomery.

At this point in her life, Shore made the decision to return to singing and moved to New York City to audition for orchestras and radio stations. At these auditions, she would sing a popular song at the time, Dinah. One of the disk jockeys couldn't remember her name and just called her the "Dinah girl" and low and behold, her stage name was born! But to continue, she was eventually hired at the radio station WNEW where she sang with another Palm Springs future native, Frank Sinatra. In the 1950's, where the pair were seen working together on a lot of radio and songs, it was rumored that both Shore and Sinatra had a long-standing affair. They can be friends though, amirite?

At this point, you're probably wondering, how does Dinah Shore get from New York to Palm Springs? Like the saying in Brooklyn goes: We're walkin' here!

Eventually, Dinah left New York and went on to record with Capitol Records in 1959. She recorded several hit albums including those of "Somebody Loves Me" and "Dinah Sings, Yes Indeed!" In 1962, Shore was dropped by Capitol and only seldom continued recording. Certain projects she engaged in was that of the Lower Basin Street Revisited for Frank Sinatra's Reprise Labe.

Fun Fact: She was the first to sing the "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in its origination. Oh, the irony.

As technology progressed, so did Dinah. She needed a new gig; something more fulfilling than the one before. Shore ended moving to television, where she hosted her own daytime programs, Dinah's Place in the first half of the 80's and Dinah & Friends into the last 5 years of the 80's. Eventually, she went on to end her career in the television industry with her show, "A Conversation with Dinah". This show featured guests such as other Palm Springs local (and eventually street names) Bob Hope, Sinatra, and even Nancy Reagan's first post-White House interview.

As you can see, Mrs. Shore was influential in almost all technological industries. However, like most of her peers, it is apparent that her life had been non-stop since the launch of her singing career in the early 1950's up until the end of the whip-it era. This called for a place to unwind and relax after her copious amounts of radio and television shows. So, guess who she hired to build her Palm Springs home? That's right, the mid-century modern influencer himself, Daniel Wexler. Wexler was a profound architect in the area of Palm Springs, who established conceptual and inhabited homes that accompanied uses of steel in a straight line and concrete block walls in the sides of the mountains to fully be "in nature" so to speak. Today, this pad has been purchased by our beloved "Jack" in Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio, where he rents the estate for as much $3,500 a night. Yeah, easily affordable. Among everything else, and like those that she was peers with, Dinah Shore had done what her male predecessors had done coming to the Palm Springs Area; and that is continuing the legacy of the progressive design movement that encompassed the city.

To get an idea of her home, a website listed as shows the specific compound surrounded by the backdrop of the purple sky. Shore's home is based on a 1.3-acre desert oasis and offers 6 bedrooms, and 7.5 baths between the main house. The desert modern guest house also overlooks the pool and features a cocktail bar and daily maid service. As to the specific location in Palm Springs, the house is found in the Old Las Palmas, where other vacation homes belonged to Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, and Elvis and Priscilla Presley.

While residing in Palm Springs in her progressively designed home, one of her most known past times was that of golf. Dinah Shore held an LPGA tournament at the Mission Hills Country Club, which has been held every spring and at the same location since then. If you're wondering what this has to do with GRL PWR then I will have you know that Mrs. Shore was the first female member of the Hillcrest Country Club, where only MEN had presided golf tournaments for years. You go, Dinah Sho-Sho! On the streak of female empowerment is how her perseverance in the golf world led to the inspired Club Skirts Dinah Shore weekend.

Mariah Hanson, founder of the event "Club Skirts" originally in Northern California, was en-route to Palm Springs, where she had booked the Palm Springs Modern Art Museum for an after party inclusive of the LGBT community and their allies at the time. Essentially, her idea with Club Skirts was to be able to be not only a safe space to discuss the seriousness of the issues facing the community, but also to ensure that there was also a safe space to have fun and be fully themselves. at the same time of the notorious golf tournament that was inspired by Mrs. Shore all those years ago. The amazing part of this festival in its current time is that Hanson has gotten so much support from the city of Palm Springs to hold this even in its transitional location and in the traditional manner. La Magazine points out that the mayor even gave her a key to the city, which encompasses the ally stance that the City of Palm Springs has come to take for the LGBT community.

Hanson's purpose for the Dinah Shore weekend was not intended primarily as a tourism booster for the city, but rather to push forth the notion that empowerment comes from unity and solidarity. That to persevere like the notable icon the festival is founded after will allow women of all backgrounds to be heard and for them to stand together to "rage against the patriarchal machine."

In today's time, the influence of Dinah Shore becomes apparent as you cruise down Dinah Shore Blvd in the Desert Hot Springs region of Palm Springs. Shore even has a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is not only her career that makes Dinah stand out above the rest in the city of Palm Springs; it is her mere adversity in a male-dominated industry (in both radio/television and golf) that brought out the sunshine in those Tennessee-born eyes to the desert city and leaving a lasting impact on Palm Springs forever.



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