Dorothy Barrett, Hollywood treasure and local icon 1917-2018

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Dorothy Barrett, born February 28, 1917, passed away March 8, 2018, at the age of 101. She was a performer all of her life. At the age of seven, her first teacher was Eddie Mack, originator of the staircase dance and Barrett danced all the staircases of the Orpheum circuit for four years in her own tap dancing act.

When Earl Carroll built his theater in Hollywood, he selected Barrett as one of the “16 most beautiful girls in the world” for his “Earl Carroll Vanities.”

She appeared in a series of musical hits: Buddy De Sylva’s Louisiana Purchase, George Abbott’s Beat the Band and Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe placed Barrett under the direction of such renowned choreographers as George Ballanchine and Hermes Pan.

Later, as a Powers Model, she was screen tested and brought back to Hollywood. In 1945, Barrett played her first lead in the Academy Award-nominated RKO documentary short Hot Money. Under contract to Paramount, she was in all of their major musical motion pictures, including Variety Girl, Blue Skies, Stork Club, St. Louis Blues, Hitting a New High, and Monsieur Beaucaire. She was on loan to other studios for Mildred Pierce, The Great Waltz, Week-End at the Waldorf, and was one of the last living The Wizard of Oz cast members and had the rare honor of also being in Gone with the Wind.

The Red Cross of America honored Barrett for staging the Shrine Auditorium gigantic Girl Scouts Dance Festival cast of 1978.

Francis Lederer, Founder of the non-profit American National Academy of Performing Arts in Studio City, appointed Barrett Administrator/Director of the Academy’s Children’s Workshop in 1965. In 2000 when Lederer passed away at 100, Barrett became Director of the Academy and continued until January 2016.

Her numerous honors include Humanitarian of the Year by the City of L.A. and Lifetime Achievements from Studio City and the Horace Heidt Foundation.

Missed by family, friends, and students, Barrett impacted many lives. She was always delighted when someone recognized her. Many will remember her bright smile as she strutted through our community.

Services will be held on Thursday, March 15, 1:30pm, at Forest Lawn Glendale in the Wee Kirk o’ the Heather Chapel.


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