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Editor’s note: This is the 418th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.

A star of early television, Dagmar was a dumb-as-a-fox blonde who at the height of her popularity received thousands of fan letters a week.

Born Virginia Ruth Egnor at Yawkey in Lincoln County in 1921, she grew up in Huntington, attended Huntington High School and worked at the Huntington Walgreen’s before she moved to New York, working there as a fashion model and later as a Broadway actress.

In 1944-45 she was in “Laffing Room Only,” a musical revue produced by the comic team of Olsen and Johnson. She also appeared with comic Bert Lahr in “Burlesque,” a Broadway comedy that ran for 439 performances in 1946-48.

Her big break came when she was picked for the cast of “Broadway Open House,” a vaudeville-style mix of music and comedy that ran on NBC-TV in 1950-51 and was a forerunner of the “Tonight Show.”

The program’s producers christened her “Dagmar,” and the name stuck. She was told to wear a low-cut gown, sit on a stool and act dumb when host Jerry Lester talked with her. The studio audience loved her deadpan delivery of punch lines and clever misuse of words. The viewers at home were also delighted. Over the show’s brief run, her neckline plunged and her salary soared, from $75 a week to more than $3,000.

Her picture, taken by famed photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, was on the July 16, 1951, cover of Life magazine. After “Broadway Open House” left the air, she became a frequent guest on TV shows headlined by Milton Berle, Bob Hope and other big-name stars. Edward R. Murrow interviewed her on his “Person to Person” show. Mitch Miller convinced Frank Sinatra to do a record with her. When Cadillac debuted a new design that featured dual chrome projections on the front bumper, people quickly dubbed them “Dagmars,” a term still used by many auto fans.

Later in her career, she performed in Las Vegas shows and in summer stock and was a frequent panelist on TV game shows, including “Hollywood Squares.” Retiring, she moved back to West Virginia, settling in Ceredo to be near her family. She died in 2001.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, to reflect that Yawkey is in Lincoln County.

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