Erected in 1858, Mandalay is a two-storey, Georgian-style home in a seaside suburb of
Melbourne, Australia. What follows is an interesting story of one of the home's occupants.
Dorothy Marian Kiaora Blanchard (7 June 1899 - 3 August 1987), was an Australian-born American interior designer and decorator. Her father, Henry James Blanchard (1862-1931), was a New Zealand-born master mariner (Dorothy's second middle name Kiaora is a traditional greeting in the Māori language of New Zealand). Henry Blanchard became a ship's
pilot on Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay, and they resided in the bayside suburb of Williamstown, in a large colonial Georgian-style house called Mandalay.
Dorothy left Melbourne for London in 1922 in search of an acting career. Not being successful there, she went to New York, where she joined the cast of André Charlot's London Revue of 1924, an English musical starring Beatrice Lillie and Gertrude Lawrence. She toured the United States and
Canada for a year as Lillie's understudy.
In 1925, she married Henry Jacobson, a New York businessman, with whom she had two children, Henry Jacobson and Susan Blanchard (Susan would later marry actors Henry Fonda, Michael Wager, and Richard Widmark). While still married to Jacobson, albeit unhappily, Dorothy met Oscar Hammerstein II, whose own marriage was also unhappy. They fell in love, and divorced their spouses to marry in 1929. Oscar also had
two children from his first marriage: William Hammerstein and Alice Mathias. His marriage to Dorothy lasted until his death in 1960. They had a son together, James Hammerstein.
Between the 1930s and the 1950s she operated Dorothy Hammerstein Inc, a high-profile interior design business, with clients on both coasts of the United States.
In 1949, along with her husband and the novelists Pearl S. Buck and James A.
Michener, she was a founder of Welcome House, an organisation that facilitates the adoption of children of American and Asian parents.
From its inception in 1969 until her death, Dorothy Hammerstein was actively involved with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, both as a board member and as a member of its national advisory board.