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Biography : Getting Started

Close professional and personal links developed between the Fields family and the song writing team of Rodgers and Hart in 1919. Lew bought their material for use in his shows, and Herbert collaborated with the pair on several shows.

On leaving school, Dorothy was employed as a drama teacher, and contributed light verse to the column “The Conning Tower” in the New York World. In 1924 she married a doctor called Jack Wiener, but the marriage was a clear mistake from the start. At about the same time Dorothy met songwriter J. Fred Coots, and they wrote a few songs together.

Nothing was published, and according to Dorothy, her lyrics were poor, but the experience convinced her that she should try to develop a career in songwriting. This led to a fortuitous meeting with Jimmy McHugh who worked at Jack Mills Music.

McHugh invited Dorothy to provide some lyrics for him, and later to join him on a commission to provide some numbers for the celebrated Cotton Club. An oft-repeated story tells of a Fields family outing to the Club on opening night, when the singer substituted risqué lyrics for Dorothy's words to her mortification.

Some claim the singer in question was Adelaide Hall, but Deborah Grace Winer more reliably identifies the culprit as Aida Ward.

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