Dunne was born December 20, 1898, in Louisville, Kentucky. The daughter of a music teacher, she was raised around music and had a natural talent for it. She won a scholarship to the Chicago Musical College, and hoped to become an opera singer, but did not pass her audition with the Metropolitan Opera Company. However, she found success in musical theater, eventually appearing in several Broadway productions. While playing the lead in a road company of “Show Boat,” Dunne was discovered by Hollywood and was soon on her way to a varied and prosperous acting career.
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