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Biography : Early Years

"How to write a song? I suppose a good method is to arrange to be born into a theatrical family."

Dorothy was born on July 15th 1904. (Most sources say 1905, but biographer Charlotte Greenspan has seen the birth certificate!) She was the daughter of the hugely successful vaudevillian Lew Fields, and his wife Rose.

She had an elder sister Frances, and two older brothers Joseph and Herbert, who were both to become playwrights and provide the books for several successful musicals.

Lew Fields had become a theatrical producer and despite frequent financial crises, he and his family enjoyed a prosperous lifestyle with numerous servants in their large house on West 90th Street, Manhattan, and a summer home at Far Rockaway.

Dorothy with father Lew Fields

The children were surrounded with past and future greats from the New York theatre world; despite this, they were actively discouraged from carving out careers in the theatre for themselves. Lew and Rose seem to have had little respect for the profession : Rose is reported to have said “ You children must be extra polite to strangers because your father's an actor.
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