Dorothy Provine: Actress and singer best known for 'The
Roaring 20s' and its spin-off hit 'Don't Bring Lulu'
By Spencer Leigh
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
The all-singing, all-dancing party girl, Pinky Pinkham,
played by Dorothy Provine in the 1960s TV series The Roaring
20s, was close to the actress's own personality. She was a
lively, party girl who dated some of Hollywood's most
Dorothy Provine was born in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1935
and raised in Seattle, Washington. She attended the
University of Washington but she realised that her potential
was an actress. She was blond and beautiful with a wide
grin, and when a talent scout for Warner Brothers saw her in
a college production of Charley's Aunt he invited her to
Hollywood for auditions.
In 1958, Provine played a female gangster in The Bonnie
Parker Story: this was essentially a B-movie and had none of
the quality of Bonnie And Clyde (1967), but Provine shone in
her role. This was followed by inconsequential parts in
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and
Wagon Train, but she played opposite Lou Costello in the
comedy, The 30 Foot Bride Of Candy Rock (1959): Provine
played the 30 foot bride. Roger Moore and Provine co-starred
in a TV series about prospectors, The Alaskans (1959-60).
Provine's big break came with another TV series, The Roaring
20s, in which she played the flapper, Pinky Pinkham. This
light-hearted escapism about cops, gangsters and showgirls
in Chicago in the 1920s was very successful and co-starred
Donald May and Gary Vinson. Provine sang period songs in all
45 episodes, although "Don't Bring Lulu" had been written in
Warners, which had just started its own record label, was
keen to promote her and although she did not have chart
entries in the US, she made the UK Top 20 over Christmas
1961 with "Don't Bring Lulu" and followed that single with
"Hard Hearted Hannah", "Crazy Words, Crazy Tune" and "Music!
Music! Music!" Her albums The Roaring 20's - Songs From The
TV Series (1961) and Vamp Of The Roaring 20's (1962)
featured well-known oldies in medleys.
Sometimes for publicity purposes, sometimes because she felt
genuine affection, Provine was associated with several
Hollywood personalities including the actor Dale Robertson,
the producer Alan Ladd, Jr and the singers Jim Lowe and Andy
Williams. Her most infamous encounter was with Frank
Sinatra. Sinatra hadn't objected to the playful depictions
of the Mob in The Roaring Twenties but he was appalled that
Desi Arnaz was about to make something more substantial, The
Untouchables. He took Provine with him when he and his
henchmen planned to beat up Arnaz, but in the end, he
decided that he did not want to harm a friend.
Provine appeared in the comedy extravaganza It's A Mad, Mad,
Mad, Mad World (1963), as Jack Lemmon's wife in Good
Neighbour Sam (1964), with Hayley Mills in That Darn Cat!
(1965) and she was back to being a flapper in Blake Edwards'
The Great Race (1965). Provine was to play the film star,
Jean Harlow in Harlow (1965), but, at the last minute, the
director Alex Segal decided that Carol Lynley had a greater
In the mid-1960s, she met the English director Robert Day,
who had made The Rebel with Tony Hancock and She with Ursula
Andress. They married in 1968 and had a son. Provine made
her final film appearance in Never A Dull Moment (1968) with
Dick Van Dyke, and from that time, she only made commercials
and occasional guest appearances. They settled in Bainbridge
Island and she remained there until her final illness.
Dorothy Provine, actress and singer: born Deadwood, South
Dakota 20 January 1935; married 1968 Robert Day (one son);
died Bremerton, Washington 25 April 2010.
April 29, 2010
Dorothy Provine, Shapely Actress in '60s, Dies at 75
By DENNIS HEVESI
Dorothy Provine, the leggy, blond actress perhaps best known for her
quirky role in the Stanley Kramer movie "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad
World" and as the flouncy nightclub singer on the 1960s television
series "The Roaring '20s," died on Sunday in Bremerton, Wash. She was 75
and lived on Bainbridge Island, Wash.
The cause was emphysema, her husband, Robert Day, said.
Ms. Provine appeared in more than 40 film and television productions,
starting in 1958 in the title role in the movie "The Bonnie Parker
Story." Five years later, Mr. Kramer cast her as Emmeline Marcus Finch,
the only character in "Mad, Mad World" not obsessed with finding
$350,000 in buried treasure. Among the marquee names with whom she
starred were Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, Buddy Hackett
and Edie Adams.
In 1960 and '61, Ms. Provine played Pinky Pinkham, the Charleston-dancing
flapper in the ABC-TV series "The Roaring '20s," a drama about racketeers
and reporters who often ended up at the speakeasy where Pinky performed.
"It is Dorothy's oooohing and shimmying that have kept the series
afloat," Time magazine said in May 1961. Shimmying came to her early on.
Dorothy Michelle Provine was born on Jan. 20, 1935, in Deadwood, S.D.,
one of three daughters of Virgil and Kathleen Provine. "As a child she
dressed up in pillowcase sheaths with her little sister and learned the
Charleston," Time magazine said.
Besides her husband, Robert, a movie director whom she married in 1968,
Ms. Provine is survived by her sisters, Patricia Coldiron and Susan
Cameron; and her son, Robert.
While studying acting at the University of Washington in the mid-1950s,
Ms. Provine got a job handing out prizes on a local television quiz
show. She dropped out of school and moved to Hollywood in 1957 and was
soon cast as the notorious female bank robber in the low-budget movie
"The Bonnie Parker Story."
Among her other credits, Ms. Provine acted in "Good Neighbor Sam"
(1964), "That Darn Cat!" (1965), "The Great Race" (1965) and "Kiss the
Girls and Make Them Die" (1966).
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