We Know All About 'The Dinah' But Who Was Dinah Shore?
March 28 - April 3 marks the upcoming LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship, or as it’s still known unofficially— The Dinah Shore Golf Tournament. Entertainer, host and celebrity Dinah Shore founded this major women's golf tournament in 1972 in Rancho Mirage, California.
However, that event is only vaguely associated with what most contemporary lesbians know as The Dinah, the major women’s party weekend in Palm Springs. So who was Dinah Shore and how does she relate to this event?
Dinah Shore was not only one of the top female singers of her era (she recorded 80 pop hits), but she had one of the best variety shows on TV in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. She was born in Winchester, Tennessee to two Jewish immigrant parents. Overcoming a childhood bout with polio, she began singing professionally at age 14. After graduating from prestigious Vanderbilt University, Shore went to New York and eventually signed a recording contract with RCA in 1940. She appeared on a number of the top radio shows during the war and her first number one hit was the sentimental “I'll Walk Alone.”
During one of her USO tours she met and married actor George Montgomery. They would have a daughter and adopt a son. Moving to Columbia Records, Shore hit the peak of her recording popularity. She made a few movies including the MGM all-star musical Till the Clouds Roll By, in which she sang “The Last Time I Saw Paris.”
Shore became a huge star on television, and her variety show is one of the best and most fondly remembered programs of the time. Sponsored by Chevrolet, The Dinah Shore Show always ended with Dinah blowing a great big kiss to the audience. She also sang the Chevy Ad jingle that became one of the great 1950s promo songs.
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Shore eventually had her own talk show, and her guests loved her relaxed, gracious Southern manner. After her divorce from Montgomery (he was basically known as Mr. Shore in the Star is Born manner), Shore had a number of public romances including her torrid affair with Burt Reynolds, who was at the height of his movie fame. The fact that Reynolds was 20 years younger than Dinah gave her a sexy cougar image before the term was even borne.
Shore was always an avid golfer. She was the first female member of the famed Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles. In 1972 she helped found the Dinah Shore Golf Tournament near her former home in Rancho Mirage, CA. This tournament is now recognized as one of the Women's Top 4 tournaments.
In the 1980s, lesbians attending the Dinah Shore Golf Tournament started throwing evening parties and events. As numbers increased for these parties, larger promoters entered the arena. Soon Dinah Shore Weekend became better known as a weekend for ladies looking to party in the desert and less about the golf tournament — at least among lesbians visiting the desert.
There has never been an official connection between these parties and the golf tournament, and Shore herself long denied rumors of being a lesbian. Now that the tournament doesn’t even mention its founder in the name, that connection between Dinah Shore the celebrity, and The Dinah has drifted further apart.
Dinah Shore died of cancer in 1994. For a performer who was not only a top recording star and a huge TV icon, it’s surprising that people mostly have kind words to say about her. Indeed, there is a statue of her at the country club where the golf tournament is played and on her resting place are these words: "Dinah Shore - loved by all who knew her and millions who never did."