b. 14 December 1914 (or 1917), New York City, New York, USA, d. 16 October 1978. An elegant and versatile song-and-dance-man with a genial personality, who starred in some of the most entertaining musicals of the 40s and 50s, often as a vaudeville performer or similar. As a youngster, Dailey worked in minstrel shows and vaudeville. In 1937 he got a job in the chorus of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s Broadway show Babes In Arms, and, two years later, played a supporting role in another stage musical, Stars In Your Eyes, which starred Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante. His first appearance in a movie musical came in 1941 with the lavish Ziegfeld Girl, which was followed by Lady Be Good and Panama Hattie. After service in World War II, Dailey signed for 20th Century-Fox and began to play the lead in films such as Mother Wore Tights (the first of several he made with Betty Grable), You Were Meant For Me, Give My Regards To Broadway, When My Baby Smiles At Me (for which he was nominated for the best actor Oscar, only to be beaten by Laurence Olivier!), You’re My Everything, I’ll Get By, My Blue Heaven, and Call Me Mister. In 1952 his portrayal of baseball star Dizzy Dean in The Pride Of St. Louis was highly acclaimed. As well as these occasional, but skilfully played straight roles, he continued to devote most of his time to musicals such as The Girl Next Door, There’s No Business Like Show Business, It’s Always Fair Weather, The Best Things In Life Are Free, Meet Me In Las Vegas, and Pepe (1960). By then, the lavish, big budget musicals had become old fashioned, and Dailey subsequently worked on stage and in the big US cabaret rooms. In the late 50s he co-starred with Vittorio De Sica, Jack Hawkins and Richard Conte in The Four Just Men, a television series that was popular in the USA and UK, and his other small screen work included The Governor And J.J. in the 60s, and Faraday And Company in the 70s.
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