Dorothy Arnold (actress)

Dorothy Arnold (November 21, 1917 – November 13, 1984)[1] was an American film actress and the first wife of baseball star Joe DiMaggio. Her 20-year movie career began with 1937’s Freshies and ended with 1957’s Lizzie.[2]

Dorothy Arnold
Dorothy Arnoldine Olson

(1917-11-21)November 21, 1917
DiedNovember 13, 1984(1984-11-13) (aged 66)
Years active1937–1958
Spouse(s)Joe DiMaggio (November 19, 1939 – May 12, 1944)
George Schuster (1946–1950)
Ralph D. Peck (Peckovich)(August 27, 1970 – November 13, 1984; her death)

Early life

She was born as Dorothy Arnoldine Olson in Duluth, Minnesota, of Norwegian heritage.[3] By the age of 12 she was performing on amateur nights at Duluth's Lyric Theater and with the local Salvation Army Band. She graduated from Denfeld High School in 1935. Her first theatrical job was with the Band Box Revue, traveling out of Chicago. She studied at Paramount School in New York and played bits in pictures as a dancer.


Arnold tested twice with Paramount Pictures, but it was Universal Studios that offered her a stock contract. She appeared in 15 films between 1937 and 1939. Her most memorable roles were as the imperiled heroine Jean Drew in The Phantom Creeps (with Bela Lugosi and Robert Kent) and Gloria DeVere in The House of Fear (with Irene Hervey and William Gargan).

Following her marriage to DiMaggio, she quit acting. A brief comeback in 1957 included her last film, MGM’s Lizzie (with Eleanor Parker and Joan Blondell) and appearances on TV’s The Adventures of Jim Bowie and Dragnet.

Personal life

Arnold met DiMaggio in 1937 – she was 19, he was 23 – on the set of the film Manhattan Merry-Go-Round (released in 1937). DiMaggio had a minor speaking role in the film; Arnold had no lines.[4] The couple married on November 18, 1939 at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in San Francisco.[5] On October 23, 1941, the year of DiMaggio’s famous 56-game hitting streak, Arnold gave birth to their only child, Joe DiMaggio, Jr. The couple split up in 1942 but later reconciled in front of the press. They separated again on October 6, 1943. DiMaggio enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to Hawaii. Arnold filed for divorce, which was granted on May 12, 1944. She received $500 a month in alimony, custody of Joe Jr., and $150 in child support. Despite the divorce, they spent Christmas together in 1945.

Her second marriage was to stockbroker George Schuster in 1946. The two were divorced within five years.

Arnold's third marriage, on August 27, 1970, was to Ralph D. Peck (Peckovich), to whom she remained married until her death (on November 13, 1984).[6]

Later years and death

Arnold and her third husband owned and operated a supper club together in Palm Springs, California, called Charcoal Charley's, where she performed until her death from pancreatic cancer in 1984.[7]


Year Film Role Notes
1937 Freshies Singer
Manhattan Merry-Go-Round Dancer Uncredited
Alternative title: Manhattan Music Box
1938 The Storm Nora, Bar Girl
Exposed Hatcheck Girl Uncredited
Secrets of a Nurse Secretary
Gambling Ship Hostess Uncredited
1939 Pirates of the Skies Waitress Uncredited
The Phantom Creeps Jean Drew Alternative title: The Shadow Creeps
Risky Business Helen Uncredited
You Can't Cheat an Honest Man First Debutante Uncredited
The Family Next Door Cashier
Code of the Streets Mildred
Unexpected Father Sally (showgirl) Alternative title: Sandy Takes a Bow
The House of Fear Gloria DeVere
Hero for a Day Dorothy
1957 Lizzie Elizabeth's Mother
1958 Fräulein Woman with Hugo

Television credits

Year TV series Role Notes
1954 The Lone Wolf Nancy St. Clair 1 episode
1957 The Adventures of Jim Bowie Cherry Blondell 1 episode
Dragnet 1 episode


  1. "Arnold, Dorothy (1917–1984)." Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages. Gale. 2007. Retrieved January 06, 2013 from HighBeam Research
  2. Olson, Dorothy Arnoldine (Minnesota Historic Society)
  3. Leonard and Martha Olson (1920 Federal Census, State of Minnesota, Steele County)
  4. Engelberg, Morris; Schneider, Marv (2004). Dimaggio: Setting the Record Straight. MBI Publishing Company. pp. 188. ISBN 0-7603-1853-0.
  5. Jones, David (2004). Joe DiMaggio: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 54. ISBN 0-313-33022-0.
  7. Jones, David (2004). Joe DiMaggio: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 83. ISBN 0-313-33022-0.
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