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  • Writer's pictureKaren Terhune Duncan

Love at the World's Fair

{June 13, 1942} Today would been the 80th wedding anniversary of Dorothy and Angus Duncan, Doug’s parents. Their unlikely meeting, at the 1939 World’s Fair, was the launch of a magnificent love story.

Dot was just 23 years old when she landed what she described was a “swell job” at the fair, as a key punch operator, essentially working very early computers for the Cartier Jewelry company. During her breaks she’d wander the grounds often sitting with her lunch in the front row of the Remington Rand stage where a cute actor demonstrated a wonderous invention – the electric shaver. He noticed, and after one performance he hopped down from the stage to say hello. She offered him a bite of her hotdog and that was that. As an actor he was often on the road, yet, when in town, New York was theirs to explore together.

After the US entered WW2 Angus proposed and they were married just as he shipped out serving in the 26thSpecial Services Company, the entertainment branch of the American military. Trained fully as soldiers this company was created by the War Department to stage plays, hold concerts, and film documentaries. His pals and fellow actors called him “Dunc”, his nickname, and for many months Dot thought they were calling him Doug. She was thrilled to become Mrs. Angus Duncan and vowed to name their son, Doug. They did just that 9 months after the war ended. Doug’s sister Pam arrived in 1949 and the family was complete. Angus joined the Actors’ Equity (union for stage actors) office staff and in 1952 he was named Executive Director, a post he held until his retirement in 1972. One of my favorite quotes from the archives of Actors’ Equity writes, “Angus Duncan was an actor’s truest friend. He can no longer be seen on the stage, instead his stage is his quest for fair pay, and just treatment of all who heed the call to this noble profession.”

Angus commuted to Manhattan every day from their Wilton, Connecticut home. Dot involved herself creatively making costumes, planting gardens, and sharing her artistic endeavors, which included decoupage, crochet, pottery and ultimately her truest talent, as a stained-glass artist.

They retired to Miami, Florida in 1972 to be near good friends and Angus’ sister Temple, where Dot’s artistry grew, and Angus enjoyed golf. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew all but destroyed their home, and they had had enough of southern Florida. In their 80s they moved to Houston Texas where Pam and her family lived and there they happily remained. Angus died at the age of 90, Dot at 96.

All that knew them shared in their remarkable love. They supported each other, encouraged each other, believed in each other. Their genuine love was remarkably resilient and evident by all who knew them. They are dearly missed, as they touched the lives of many in so many ways.

They lay in rest, together, in the Atlantic Ocean on the edge of their beloved Manhattan, as was their wishes. Tonight, Doug and I raise a toast to this beautiful couple. Happy 80th anniversary Dorothy and Angus. We love you.

(I made this video in 2011 celebrating their lives. It’s a bit of a documentary, 33 minutes long, and probably of interest only to our family, but enjoy if you wish.)

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