Born in Winchester, Tennessee, Shore was stricken with polio at 18 months, but recovered. She was left with a shortened leg, which she always covered with long pants or a long dress. Despite this disability, she sometimes successfully danced before audiences. She was a 1938 graduate in sociology from Vanderbilt University. After graduating she moved to New York City where she began singing and recorded with bandleader Xavier Cugat. She changed her name to Dinah after the title of a favorite song.
She remained one of the USA's most popular singers, making regular radio broadcasts and having over 80 hit records, most in the 1940s and early 1950s.
She made many popular appearances entertaining members of the United States Armed Forces during World War II.
The Dinah Shore Show premiered on the NBC television network in 1951, and the sponsor's theme song ("See the USA in your Chevrolet") became the singer's signature piece.
On her show, Dinah! she once had the misfortune of interviewing Andy Kaufman in his Tony Clifton guise. He took deliberate offense at her questions and eventually tipped a pan of eggs over her head. This happened live on the air to a huge TV audience. It was the ultimate humiliation. The producers cut to impromptu commercial and Clifton was escorted out of the studio.
At one point, Shore had an affair with Burt Reynolds, who was 19 years younger than she. Rumors that she had African-American ancestry haunted her career, and caused her to lose some popularity in the U.S. South.
Dinah Shore died in Beverly Hills, California of ovarian cancer.