The sad life of socialite Dorothy Hale

February 06, 2013



It might occur that many haven't ever heard of Dorothy Hale. So let me introduce you and take you on a tour, following her sad life.

Dorothy Hale was born on the 11th of January in 1905. Dorothy was considered a remarkably beautiful woman, but with less remarkably talents. Dorothy got introduced to the high society and luxury living and became known as an American socialite, but also an aspiring actress. Hale was born  Dorothy Donovan in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1919, Dorothy left home after a attending a convent and a drama school. She hoped to pursue a career. Detectives were hired by her family to find Dorothy, but she eventually returned when her funds ran out. Eventually, with the help of friends, Dorothy got a job in the chorus of a Broadway production called Lady, be good. Dorothy was studying sculpture in Paris, and while doing so she married millionaire stockbroker Gaillaird Thomas, but the brief marriage ended in divorce.

Dorothy Hale and Gardner Hale.

Dorothy married Gardner Hale in 1927; a fresco, mural and society portrait artist. Dorothy continued moving in creative and expensive social circles and during this west coast period she socialized with artists such as Miquel and Rosa Corvarrubias, Frida Kahlo and photographer Nickolas Muray. Dorothy didn't had much work; it was limited to several seasons in stock companies and some work as a dancer and Ziegfeld girl. In the summer of 1935, Dorothy and her friend Rosamond Pinchot (another American socialite and aspiring actress) opened in the play 'Abide with Me'; a psychological drama written by their friend Clare Booth Luce. Dorothy and her friends enjoyed the experience tremendously, but the play panned and died quietly. Rosamond Pinchot took her life by carbon monoxide poisoning, in 1938.


When Hale's husband Gardner Hale died in a car crash in 1931, Dorothy was left with financial difficulties. She was no longer able to maintain her high-society lifestyle. To keep her head above water, Dorothy accepted the largess of rich lovers and generous friends such as Clare Luce. Clare: "we all believed that a girl of such extraordinairy beauty could not be long in either developing a career or finding another husband. Dorothy had very little talent and no luck".

Dorothy repeatedly tried to find work as an actress, unsuccesfully. In acquaintance with Samuel Goldwyn led to an uncredited role in the film Cynara. Aswell as a minor role in Catherine the great (1934). Her screentests were a straight failure. Dorothy led a life filled with affairs, but only in 1937 she got a serious affair with Harry Hopkins. (Franklin D. Roosenvelt's top advisor). Anticipating in 'a white wedding' Hale moved into Hampshire house, a 27-story apartment building and she began putting together a trousseau but Hopskins abruptly broke off the affair.

Bernard Baruch, another benefactor and abandoned suitor, advised Dorothy that, at 33, she was too old for a professional career, and that she should look for a wealthy husband. Baruch even gave her $1,000 with the instructions... to buy a dress glamourous enough to capture a husband.


One evening, Hale informally entertained some friends; she had told them that she was planning a long trip and invited them to a farewell party. After attending the theatre, Hale returned home to her one-room apartment with a kitchenette on the 16th floor of Hampshire house at about 1:15 am, leaving a large number of friends at the 21 club. She apparently spent the next four hours at the typewriter composing farewell notes to friends: one to Baruch for expressing regret that she did not take his advice.

At 5:15 am on October 21, 1938 Dorothy threw herself out of the window of her apartment. She was found still wearing her favorite Madame X femme fatale black velvet dress with a corsage of small yellow roses, given to her by Noguchi.

Dorothy's friend, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo made a painting of the suicide of Dorothy Hale in 1939.





You Might Also Like

6 Comments

  1. I've never heard of this tragic lady, thank you for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm the one who has never heard about this beautiful lady and her sad story.
    Thank you for sharing this on your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  3. i really enjoyed this post. I had seen that painting but dudnt know the story----

    ReplyDelete
  4. Was all the letters found?

    ReplyDelete

Popular Posts

My Flickr Images