Classic Movie Travels: Virginia Dale

Classic Movie Travels: Virginia Dale

Virginia Dale Headshot
Virginia Dale

Actress and dancer Virginia Dale was born Virginia Paxton in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 1, 1917. Her parents were mechanic Joel Paxton and Lula Helms Paxton. Dale was one of six children: Jay, Frances, Frieda, Joey, and an unnamed infant. Tragically, the infant and Frieda did not survive to adulthood.

As a child, Dale attended schools in the Charlotte area. She later worked with her sister, Frances, to develop a dance act called The Paxton Sisters, leading her to appear in Broadway shows such as Him and The Final Balance. The duo was discovered by Darryl F. Zanuck at a New York nightclub and signed a contract with 20th Century Fox, where Dale took on the stage name of Virginia Dale.

Virginia Dale in Buck Benny Rides Again (1940)
Dale in Buck Benny Rides Again (1940)

Dale worked in several different musical films throughout the 1930s and 1940s, including Idiot’s Delight (1939), Buck Benny Rides Again (1940), Love Thy Neighbor (1940), and Kiss the Boys Goodbye (1941). She is best known for her performance as Lila Dixon in Holiday Inn (1942) alongside Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

Virginia Dale and Fred Astaire in Holiday Inn (1942)
Virginia Dale and Fred Astaire in Holiday Inn (1942)

In the 1950s, she transitioned to television, appearing in shows such as The Adventure Patrol and The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. Dale appeared in Love That Brute (1950) and Danger Zone (1951) in the 1950s before culminating her on-screen work with the television miniseries Nutcracker: Money, Madness & Murder.

Dale passed away from emphysema on October 3, 1994, at 77 years old. She was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park—Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California.

Today, there are very few locations in connection to Dale’s life that exist, though some have been razed over time. Her 1920 home at 24 S. Cecil St., Charlotte, North Carolina, no longer stands, as is the case for her family’s 1930 home at 1103 E. 9th St., Charlotte, North Carolina.

By 1935, she was living with her sister, Frances at the Hotel Edison, which stands today at 228 W. 47th St., New York, New York.

Hotel Edison, 228 West 47th Street, New York, NY
Dale’s residence at the Hotel Edison, 228 West 47th Street, New York, NY

Her 1948 home at 3231 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles, California, no longer remains.

Forest Lawn Memorial Park—Hollywood Hills is located at 6300 Forest Lawn Dr., Los Angeles, California.

While there aren’t many locations to visit in her memory, several of her films are commercially available to enjoy today.

–Annette Bochenek for Classic Movie Hub

Annette Bochenek pens our monthly Classic Movie Travels column. You can read all of Annette’s Classic Movie Travel articles here.

Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is a PhD student at Dominican University and an independent scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for Classic Movie Hub, she also writes for Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco SocietyMagazine.

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