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Dagmar (November 29, 1921-October 9, 2001) was born Virginia Ruth Egnor in Logan County. She grew up in Huntington, where she attended Huntington High School and Huntington Business College.

During World War II, she and her husband, Angelo Lewis, moved to New York City. In New York, she modeled sweaters and began her acting career on Broadway in Laughing Room Only, a show featuring the comedy team of Olsen and Johnson. As Jennie Lewis, she appeared in comedy skits on early television variety shows.

In 1950, her acting career took off when she was hired to be on NBC’s Broadway Open House, the network’s first late-night television show. The show’s host, comedian Jerry Lester, changed her name to Dagmar for one skit and the name stuck. Dagmar’s deadpan delivery of punch lines and clever misuse of words made her instantly popular. She appeared on stage with Milton Berle and Frank Sinatra, and on Edward R. Murrow’s Person to Person television show. Her picture, taken by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, appeared on the July 16, 1951, cover of Life magazine. In the early ’50s, at the height of her popularity, the striking, statuesque actress received 2,000 fan letters a week.

By 1952, Broadway Open House was off the air and Dagmar had her own variety show, Dagmar’s Canteen, which had a short run. After the 1950s, Dagmar curtailed her schedule, but continued to perform in nightclubs and in summer theater productions. Dagmar lived in Connecticut until 1996, when she moved to Ceredo, Wayne County, where she died.

Last Revised on October 09, 2012


Cite This Article

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Dagmar." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 09 October 2012. Web. 19 April 2018.

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