Thursday, December 21, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: December 21, 1898 - Irene Dunne

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From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Irene Maria Dunne, star of musical comedies, was born in Louisville on December 21, 1898, to Joseph and Adelaide (Henry) Dunn. (Their daughter added the final "e" to her name in Hollywood.) She spent the first eleven years of her life in Kentucky, attending the Louisville public schools and the Loretto Academy there. During that time, Dunne's mother gave her singing lessons at home. When Dunne's father died in 1910, the family moved to Madison, Indiana, where she attended the public high school. Her education was completed at Webster College in St. Louis, and she graduated in 1919 from the Chicago College of Music. Dunne made her professional acting debut in 1920 in Chicago in the touring company of the musical Irene. Her stage debut in New York City followed two years later, the start of a ten-year career on the stage that included one season with the Metropolitan Opera Company. While touring with the company of Showboat as Magnolia she first attracted the notice of Hollywood producers.

In 1930 Dunne appeared in her first movie, Leathernecking, and her performance in the film Cimarron the following year brought her the first of her five Academy Award nominations. Other nominations were for Theodore Goes Wild (1936), The Awful Truth (1937), Love Affair (1939), and I Remember Mama (1948). Dunne also starred in the movies Showboat (1936), My Favorite Wife (1940), and Anna and the King of Siam (1947). She retired in 1952 after her last movie, It Grows On Trees.

Dunne returned to Louisville on two notable occasions after becoming a celebrity, first to attend the premiere of My Favorite Wife, and in 1965 to receive the Bellarmine Medal for the contributions of her talent to the public. She was the first woman to receive the medal. Dunne received a Kennedy Center Honor in December 1985 for her contributions to the performing arts. President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed her to serve as a delegate to the United Nations' 12th General Assembly.

Dunne married Francis D. Griffen on July 16, 1928; they adopted a child, Mary Frances. Dunne died September 4, 1990, and was buried in Los Angeles.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Laemmle, Whale, Hammerstein, Dunne, Jones, Winninger, Robeson, Morgan, Westley, Ferber, Kern, Laemmle, Carl, Whale, James, Hammerstein, Oscar, Dunne, Irene, Jones, Allan, Winninger, Charles, Robeson, Paul, Morgan, Helen, Westley, Helen, Ferber, Edna, Kern, Jerome, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Universal Pictures Corporation. Show Boat. Culver City, CA: MGM/UA Home Video : Turner, 1990.
AV-V4157, Young Media Library

Ferber, Edna, William LeBaron, Wesley Ruggles, Richard Dix, Irene Dunne, Estelle Taylor, RKO Radio Pictures, Inc, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Turner Entertainment Co, and MGM/UA Home Video. Cimarron. Culver City, CA] : [New York]: MGM/UA Home Video ; Turner Entertainment, 1989.
AV-V2345, Young Media Library

Dunne, Irene, Cary Grant, Arthur Richman, and Columbia Pictures. The Awful Truth. Burbank, Calif.: RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, 1991.
AV-V3032, Young Media Library

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