The television personality Dagmar is probably completely unknown to most people today, even show business buffs, but during the early 1950's she was a true TV phenomenon, as famous as Lucille Ball or Milton Berle. Dagmar was a six-foot voluptuous king-sized blonde with a thick Southern accent who could sing a little (very little, although she did it often) but was mainly a sweet, gregarious "dumb blonde" comedienne. Her television appearances were mainly limited to variety shows where she performed "as herself". Her fame and career seems to have fizzled out near the end of the decade but when she was hot she was indeed a major TV presence, a LIFE magazine cover girl and one of the biggest stars on the tube.
DAGMAR'S CANTEEN was her one series, a half-hour variety show set at a faux military canteen in Manhattan, although the set audience indeed comprised of military men and women (the show also included recruitment ads). Dagmar hosted the program, sang, did comedy skits, and flirted and interviewed the servicemen, one of whom each week performed a number on the show. The program included a few regulars as entertainers and Dagmar's sister, Jean Egnor. Sadly, it appears only a handful of episodes from the program still exist. I've only seen one, the Easter program (it's theme limited to a audience singalong to "Easter Parade") but it's a pleasant half hour with an utterly charming Dagmar who may not have been much of an actress but was clearly a pro at television hostess duties, knowing how to segue when audience members whom she thrusts a microphone in their face can't or won't sing with no embarrassment to her or the person, always with a friendly down-home personality despite her burlesque queen body. Like most early television programs, this show has quite modest production values but Dagmar's vivid personality makes this show entertaining some sixty years after it was filmed.
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