Personally and professionally, the early 1970s was an exciting time for Dorothy. In 1968, the family of five moved from Los Angeles to Montvale, New Jersey. Ron was cast as Richard Henry Lee in the musical 1776 on Broadway (for which he won a Tony Award) and for Dorothy, her dream to be on Broadway would soon be fulfilled as well.
She was one of the first performers cast by Harold Prince for the Stephen Sondheim musical Follies. She was ecstatic...a bit intimidated, but ultimately thrilled to be working alongside some of the greatest in her profession: Stephen, Hal & Michael Bennett, not to mention her co-stars: Alexis Smith, Gene Nelson, John McMartin& Yvonne DeCarlo.
"There's something about the joy of doing a Stephen Sondheim show..that is like no other for me...he touches me so....I love to sing Sondheim."
It was an amazing time for Dorothy. She received some of the highest accolades of her career, and she was finally taken seriously as an actress. In our opinion, no one can top her version of "Losing My Mind." She was nominated for a Tony Award, but lost to Alexis.
After Follies, Dorothy continued performing in regional theatre: Margo in Applause, Agnes in I Do, I Do, Desiree in A Little Night Music, Nellie Forbush in South Pacific and recreating Sally Durant in a production of Follies at Melody Top Theatre in Milwaukee, WI with Anne Jeffreys and Jill Corey, just to name a few.
In 1977, Dorothy and Ron separated, and once again, Dorothy threw herself into her work. She performed her nightclub act at Michael's Pub and The Grand Finale in NYC to rave reviews. She had a successful run in the tour of the musical Ballroom as Bea with the Broadway cast that included the great dancers Margery Beddow and Mary Ann Niles, and she played Dolly in the Westchester Broadway Dinner Theatre's production of Hello Dolly. It was during this production that Dorothy's asthma, with which she suffered for many years, became unbearable. Now dependent on steroids to help her breathe, her doctor advised her to retire. In June of 1980 she made the difficult decision to end her 40-year career.
Dorothy and Ron's divorce was finalized in May of 1980. Shortly thereafter, Dorothy and her youngest daughter Melissa moved to Vero Beach, Florida to be closer to her mother and sister. Even though asthma seriously limited her activities, Dorothy loved being a "stay-at-home" mom while Melissa was in high school. Her younger brother, Bob, eventually moved to Vero as well, and for the first time in years, the siblings were together again.
"I can't bear to be away from the people I love. I'm not a loner. I want my family with me, and I'm not happy when they're not there."- Dorothy in a 1960s interview
The final years of Dorothy's life were spent surrounded by her daughters, five of her grandchildren and other loved ones. She passed away on July 21, 1994 at her daughter Elizabeth's home in New York. Her absence in our lives is still keenly felt, even after all these years.
Since her passing there have been marriages, six more grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. We have kept her memory alive to share with those in our families that did not know her and we hope that you might know her a little better now as well.
"In Buddy's Eyes"