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Much-Sought Interior Designer Dorothy Hammerstein, 87, Dies

August 05, 1987

Dorothy Blanchard Hammerstein, once one of the most renowned interior designers in the nation and a founder with Pearl Buck of Welcome House, which arranges the adoption of children of Asian and American parents, has died in her sleep.

The widow of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II died in her Manhattan apartment Monday.

She was 87 and gave up her decorating business about 30 years ago to spend more time with her large family.

Welcome House in Doylestown, Pa., now known as Welcome House Adoption Services, coordinates the adoption of children with one American and one Asian parent. Mrs. Hammerstein, her husband and the late Nobel Prize-winning author Buck founded the group in 1949.

She also had served as a board member of the Dance Theater of Harlem since its inception in 1969.

Despite her marriage to the famed lyricist, it was as a highly regarded interior designer for about 20 years that she was best known. As head of Dorothy Hammerstein Inc. she juggled clients on both the East and West coasts from the early 1930s until her retirement.

Mrs. Hammerstein was born in Australia, where her father was a master mariner.

She left Tasmania for London to pursue a movie career and, as her prospects for success dimmed, she decided to come to the United States where she joined "Charlot's Revue," an English musical.

When the show closed in New York she joined the touring company and traveled and performed across the United States and Canada as the understudy for star Beatrice Lillie.

In 1925 she married New York businessman Henry Jacobson and they had a son and daughter. They divorced and in 1929 she married Hammerstein, best known for his collaborations with Richard Rodgers on such hit musicals as "Oklahoma!," "Carousel" and "South Pacific." Hammerstein had a son and daughter from a previous marriage, and they produced a son from their marriage. A sister, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren also survive. Hammerstein died in 1960.

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