Dorothy Smoller ~ The Tragic Dancer

Dorothy Smoller

 Dorothy Smoller was a promising Broadway dancer who took her own life

She was born Dorothy Schmoeller on October 3, 1898 in Memphis, Tennessee. Dorothy was the youngest of four daughters. After her father was institutionalized for a mental illness her mother moved the family to St. Louis, Missouri. Later they moved to Long Beach, California. When she was a teenager Dorothy started dancing professionally in San Francisco. At the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition she caused a sensation with a performance of the bacchanale. Then she spent two years touring South America with Anna Pavlova. She made her Broadway debut in the 1918 musical Head Over Heels. In 1919 she appeared in film Out Of The Fog and was on the cover of Vogue magazine. Dorothy danced in on Broadway in numerous shows including The Checkerboard, What's In A Name, and Up In The Clouds. Sadly she was diagnosed with a severe case of pulmonary tuberculsosis in 1923. 

Dorothy SmollerDorothy Smoller

She had to put her career on hold for two years while she recuperated in at Cragmoor Sanitarium in Colorado Springs. While there she developed a close relationship with financier Benjamin Strong. Dorothy went to New York City in 1926 to make a screen test for Famous Players. They did not offer her a contract. Soon after she landed a small role in the Broadway musical Howdy King. During rehearsals he suffered a hemorrhage and was forced to quit the show. She quickly fell into a deep depression. Tragically on December 9, 1926 she committed suicide by drinking three ounces of shoe polish. Dorothy was only twenty-eight years old. In her hotel room she left a note for her mother and one for her dear friend Benjamin Strong. She wrote that her illness was "a chain of torture that pains all the time." Dorothy was cremated and her ashes were given to her mother. They were later interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

Dorothy SmollerDorothy Smoller 1914

Dorothy Smoller Suicide