That I exist
What it is
To make him swear
That I ain't
A frustrated musician, her father pushed Dory to perform. She was singing in saloons by age 11 and after graduating from high school studied drama in New York.
She was presenting her own songs in small venues when a club manager told her, "Your performance is not so hot — but your material is good," and then sent samples to MGM producer Arthur Freed, Previn told The Times in 1968.
A reluctant performer, Previn knew her "tiny voice" was limited but good enough to "communicate the ideas of her songs," she once said.
At MGM, she started out writing lyrics as Dory Langdon and switched to Dory Previn after marrying the composer in 1959.
Her lyrics for the "Theme From Valley of the Dolls" were more personal than most people knew, she told People magazine in 1977. Written when she was "taking a lot of pills," she started the song by writing:
Gotta get off, gonna get
Have to get off from this ride
Gotta get hold, gonna get
Need to get hold of my pride
Often praised for their craftsmanship and humor, her songs "were too close to the nerve to gain mass public acceptance," the magazine said.
She went on to write two autobiographies; the play "Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign," which closed in 1972 after a week of previews at the Shubert Theatre; and the script and music for the 1973 TV movie "The Third Girl From the Left."
Dory once again collaborated with Andre on "The Magic Number," a work for orchestra and voice that premiered in 1997 in New York. The two had become friendly after his then-wife asked Dory to be the godmother of their child, Dory told the New York Times in 1997.
Living in a folk-art filled home in the Hollywood Hills in 1977, Previn had essentially given up songwriting when she proclaimed to People: "I've had it with angst. I'm now into hope."
In addition to Baker, a painter she met in the 1970s and married in 1984, Previn is survived by three stepchildren and six stepgrandchildren.