|Birth: ||Oct. 21, 1923|
New York, USA
|Death: ||May 27, 2011|
Palm Beach County
Gregg Sherwood Dodge Moran alias Dora Mae Fjelstad.
Gregg Dodge, a former resident of Palm Beach and colorful socialite, died Friday, May 27, 2011, at the age of 87. Born in New York on Oct. 21, 1923, Dora Mae, as she was named at birth, was 3 years old when her mother moved her to her hometown of Beloit, Wis., and Dora was adopted by her mother's new husband, Mons Fjelstad. A strikingly beautiful young woman, she moved back to New York immediately after high school, and transformed herself from a small-town Midwestern girl to a sophisticated city beauty — enrolling in the Powers Modeling School, changing her name to Gregg Sherwood, and switching from brown hair to platinum blond. After her brief first marriage ended, she returned to work as a model and an actress in small roles on television, stage and films. She played the role of a showgirl in The Merry Widow with Fernando Lamas and Lana Turner, the likely genesis of erroneous reports that described her as "a showgirl." Her number of husbands is a matter of debate; some sources say four; others cite five. Her romances, however, included Joe DiMaggio and Dean Martin. She was 28 when she met the married 51-year-old automobile heir Horace Dodge Jr. Two years later, he divorced his fourth wife. The pair married immediately after and had a son, John. The couple moved to Palm Beach, where Gregg Dodge became active on the charity and social scenes. "Men are silent black-tie bystanders whose most important appendage is a checkbook," she once wrote. She spent Dodge's multimillion dollar fortune freely until, in 1961, he filed for divorce, telling friends, "I can't afford that woman anymore." Horace Dodge died before the divorce was final and, although he had excluded her in his will and essentially died penniless, she successfully sued his mother for millions. Two years later, Gregg Dodge, by then in her 40s, married Danny Moran, 30, a former NYPD police officer whom she had hired as a bodyguard. Mr. Moran died by suicide in 1978. Mrs. Dodge — who after Moran's death dropped his name — dabbled in publishing, producing a short-lived society tabloid that was ultimately unsuccessful, in spite of her edgy observations. "I spit fire," she once said in an interview. "I always have and I always will." Mrs. Dodge is survived by her son John Dodge, and her grandson, John Dodge Jr. In 1978, she filed for bankruptcy after amassing $3.5 million in debt. A year later, she was arrested for grand larceny after misappropriating money from her son's $8 million trust fund. John Dodge posted his mother's $100,000 bond. She eventually pleaded guilty to taking $434,000 from her son. The sum included $75,000 fraudulently obtained from a New York bank. Friends are invited to the graveside burial service, which will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cemetery, 10941 Southern Blvd., Royal Palm Beach. (Source: July 5, 2011 Palm Beach Daily News)
The rise and fall of Dora Mae
[By Debra Jensen-De Hart Published: July 23, 2011 Beloit WI Daily News]
I never knew Gregg Sherwood Dodge Moran, alias Dora Mae Fjelstad. She would have been a generation or so before my time she having graduated from Beloit High School in 1941. But I did hear stories about her during my growing up years. After all, how many girls from Beloit become showgirls and socialites, marry rich and then . . . Well, recently I learned Dora Mae died in Palm Springs, Fla. in an apartment. She would have been about 87. The obituary which ran was short and to the point. She died May 27 and a short graveside service was held July 6 in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., according to the Palm Beach Post. She is survived by son, John Dodge, Sr. and grandson, John Dodge, Jr. It never mentions her great hunger to climb to the top, to be somebody. It doesn't mention her beauty, her stardom and what some might call bad luck with men combined with poor judgment in financial and family matters. But then, I guess that's the stuff of which legends are made and broken. According to Beloit Historical Society files, she went to New York City with dreams of becoming a model. She enrolled at Power's Modeling School and changed her name to Gregg (after the Gregg method of shorthand) and Sherwood (after Sherwood Drive in Beloit). Her first attempts at stardom didn't work out apparently and she came back to Beloit for a while and worked in a store as a clerk. But soon, her adventurous side overruled the more conventional life and bored, she headed back to New York to try her hand at acting. The long-legged blonde with a model's figure, apparently won a part in the Broadway musical "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." She also won bit parts in a few movies. In the late 1940s, she married Walter Sherwin, a ticket taker for the New York Yankees who embezzled about $43,000, most of which went to his wife and her parents. They were divorced and he went to jail. But Dora Mae was learning fast how to make her way upon the stage and how to win the spotlight. In 1948, she appeared on the cover of "Wink," a girlie magazine before Playboy's time. A faded copy remains in the BHS archives. "Gregg Sherwood, as everyone knows, is just about the most famous showgirl and model ever to invade the torrid atmosphere of New York nightlife," according to the cover story. The story goes on to praise her photogenic ability and her brains as well. She became her own press agent, died her brunette locks a shade of golden blonde and set out to show off her best assets. This she accomplished by wearing a revealing swimsuit, cut to the max. The publicity pictures were a hit and she was seen on the front pages of newspapers across the country, according to Wink magazine. Soon after, she became the highest paid showgirl in New York City and also posed for other magazine covers, fashion designers and national advertisers. If only Dora Mae had just kept working and promoting herself, searching new avenues and believing in herself, perhaps the rest of the chapters of her life would not have been so tempestuous. But it was not to be. Dora Mae also had a strong urge to rub elbows with the rich and famous and to be rich. In about 1952, when she was 28, she met Horace Dodge, heir to the Dodge automobile fortune. The two married and Dora Mae apparently whetted her appetite for spending. The couple produced a son, John Dodge, but were going through a divorce at the time of Horace's death in about 1964. At 41, Dora Mae married again, this time to Daniel Moran, a former police officer who sold real estate, 14 years her junior. According to the files, the two went through the Dodge fortune in no time with lavish parties, traveling and other expenditures and as the story goes, she was left bankrupt by 1978. It only got worse as in 1979, the pair were arrested for bilking Dora Mae's son out of roughly $434,000. In the end, Moran killed himself. Dora Mae was never sent to jail; she was 57 at the time. The last 30 years of her life are somewhat of a mystery. In the Beloit Memorial High School Alumni Directory, it lists Dora F. Dodge as the owner and publisher of IS Publishing Inc. which could mean International Society Publishing. Whatever road she chose next, apparently, it led her away from the glamorous life of a wealthy jet-setting socialite and the tabloids. But those who knew her have not forgotten her great beauty and the vitality for living she once possessed. Comments posted on her obituary in the Palm Beach Post include: "Gregg had a zest for life and smiled in the face of adversity. . . " And, "She was a beautiful, glamorous lady, they don't make them like her anymore, she was a survivor."
Horace Elgin Dodge (1900 - 1963)
Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Cemetery
Royal Palm Beach
Palm Beach County
Created by: Sue
Record added: Jul 23, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 73788888