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PASSINGS / Dorothy Wellman

Busby Berkeley dancer, actress

September 19, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Dorothy "Dottie" Wellman, 95, an actress and Busby Berkeley dancer who was the fifth and last wife of Hollywood director William Wellman, died of natural causes Wednesday at her Brentwood home, said her son William Wellman Jr.

Born Nov. 25, 1913, in Minneapolis, she moved with her family to Los Angeles as a child. She took dance lessons and at age 14 quit school when she landed a part as a dancer in the Warner Bros. film "Show of Shows" (1929). She went on to dance in sequences choreographed by Berkeley for such films as "The Kid From Spain" (1932), "42nd Street" (1933) and "Gold Diggers of 1933" (1933).

It was while working on "Gold Diggers" that she met Wellman, a prolific director who had guided the 1927 film "Wings" to the first Academy Award for best picture. He cast her in the 1933 movie "Wild Boys of the Road" and then married her the next year.

She gave up acting to have a family and the couple had seven children, all of whom had show business careers of varying degrees. The couple remained married until Wellman's death in 1975.

Besides her son William, she is survived by two other sons, Mike and Tim; four daughters, Cissy Wellman Guydus, Kitty Wellman, Maggie Cerminaro and Patricia Lawe; 22 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

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