The Greats of Chevrolet Before They Were Famous: Dinah Shore

When we think of famous people in Chevrolet history, we usually think about all the amazing race car drivers, engine builders, and key individuals in the many eras of performance development for the brand. But, one name has been synonymous with Chevrolet since the 1950’s that we just have to mention. Of course, we’re talking about Ms. Dinah Shore.

Born in Winchester, Tennessee, in 1917, Ms. Shore was destined for a long career in the spotlight. As a young child, she went by her given name “Frances Rose”, or her nickname “Fanny Rose.” At the age of four or five, she would sing for local farmers at her father’s general store. This was before taking voice lessons later in life. Dinah also learned to play the ukulele at the prompting of her mother, and even dabbled in acting by the time she was a young teen.

With the love of singing, and also the determination to get a higher education, Ms Shore went on to study sociology at Vanderbilt University. She was able to pay for her schooling with the money she earned from her own radio show. The theme song of her 15-minute radio show “Dinah” , is what eventually led to her taking on her now-famous namesake.

During WWII, Ms. Shore joined other singers, actors, and comedians by entertaining U.S. troops overseas at allied bases, hospitals, and even in Normandy. She also maintained her own 1/2-hour radio show, and guest starred on the “Command Performance” show on the Armed Forces Radio broadcast during this time. By the late ’40s, she had a handful of movie appearances under her belt, as well as dozens of hit songs that pushed her record sales well passed 6 million copies.

Leading into the ’50s, she became interested in the growing medium of television, and made her television debut on the Ed Wynn Show. After appearing as a guest on Bob Hope’s first NBC special in 1950, she was given a bi-weekly show slot of her own in 1951. The show, which was just 15 minutes long and ran in the early evening twice a week, was called The Dinah Shore Show. It was this show that ultimately brought her and Chevrolet together for many years to come.

TV - Dinah Shore Show, Ray Charles, Dinah Shore, Ray Charles Orchestra - 1963

Dinah Shore and Ray Charles on the Diana Shore Chevy Show. Image: Ray Charles Video Museum

As the story goes, like many other major American companies at the time, General Motors had figured out that getting their name and products on television was the next big thing for becoming even more successful. Wanting to sell their now growing lineup of family-friendly vehicles, GM, which is said to have had one of the largest advertising budgets at the time, opted to have their Chevrolet division sponsor the Dinah Shore television show, putting their name in front of countless prospective customers through the latest entertainment medium.

shore

Image: Nick Sorrentino/ NY Daily News

The show was eventually renamed The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, on which she welcomed countless musical guests. At the beginning and end of each show, she sang her now famous “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” song, which ran as the long-time jingle for the automotive brand. It ultimately earned Ms. Shore her nickname as Ms. Chevrolet.

She would go on to embody her Ms. Chevrolet moniker for years, continuing the Chevy Show through 1963, being a spokeswoman for the brand, and starring in a number of Chevrolet advertisements over the years.

Though many entertainers and models, as well as General Motors’ products themselves, aided in GM’s rise to the top of the automotive market in the ’50s and early ’60s, it is Dinah Shore that will forever be known as the person who became the face of Chevrolet and prompted so many families to open their garages to the brand!

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Image: Chevrolet via MotorCities

About the author

Lindsey Fisher

Lindsey is a freelance writer and lover of anything with a rumble. Hot rods, muscle cars, motorcycles - she's owned and driven it all. When she's not busy writing about them, she's out in her garage wrenching away. Who doesn't love a tech-savy gal that knows her way around a garage?
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