Skip Navigation

Sign In or Register


SharePrint Dagmar


Dagmar (November 29, 1921-October 9, 2001) was born Virginia Ruth Egnor in Yawkey, Lincoln 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 November 21, 2023

Cite This Article

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Dagmar." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 November 2023. Web. 22 May 2024.


There aren't any comments for this article yet.

West Virginia Humanities Council | 1310 Kanawha Blvd E | Charleston, WV 25301 Ph. 304-346-8500 | © 2024 All Rights Reserved

About e-WV | Our Sponsors | Help & Support | Contact Us The essential guide to the Mountain State can be yours today! Click here to order.