Florence LaRue born in Plainsfield, New Jersey, soon moved to Glenside, Pennsylvania. She began her musical education studying dance and violin. Her family eventually moved to Los Angeles where she earned an AA in music from Los Angeles City College and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education at Cal State Los Angeles.
While student teaching, LaRue entered the Miss Bronze California Contest where she won Miss Grand Talent. She entered the contest hoping this would lead to an acting career in motion pictures. Lamonte McLemore photographed LaRue for the Miss Bronze event and asked her to join a group he was forming. She initially turned down his offer because she was just starting her teaching career at Grant Elementary School in Hollywood...but changed her mind soon enough.
Florence credits her early success to Eartha Kitt, one of the judges, who said after hearing Florence sing April In Paris in French, "Now there's our winner!" She was also crowned Miss Coppertone and Miss Val Verde.
When asked about which Dimension she is, she states, "I am the sensitive dimension. I love what I am doing and extremely caring about my work. I like to feel that the audience is really understanding what I am trying to do! I really like to get as close to them as I can while remaining far away enough to allow them the illusion of fantasyŚ I like to really feel that these people are my friends while I am performing, that we're really together. I truly enjoy expressing the fun I'm having and I always tried to allow God's light to shine through whatever I'm doing."
She is known to be the sensitive member of the group, who is fun-loving, hardworking, and deep-thinking: The little girl with the big smile and tremendous talent. She is the small town girl who came to the big city and made it. Says LaRue, "Sometimes I even ask myself, how? But everyone is very appreciative and at almost every concert we have been blessed with a standing ovation. It makes me feel fortunate to be working at something that's really not work for me and I pray that we are deserving of it."
She is full of radiance and guess-what-happened-today stories, and a gentleness that's reflected in both her work and her motherhood.
LaRue says that, "Success to me is being able to make choices and being in front of an audience is exactly what I choose to do, be it stage, film or television. It's a great thrill to know in today's world of entertainment when "stars" come and go so quickly, that we are bringing clean family entertainment to so many people of different races and ages."
Florence has displayed her various talents in all media. She has guest starred on several television shows including It Takes A Thief, Divorce Court, Star Search, Putting On The Hits, and Hour Magazine, to name a few. In 1983, she was in the motion picture for television with Dom DeLouise called Happy. She hosted her own issue-oriented talk show called Speakout. "My idea was to have a show for teenagers. For the pilot, I did a show on teen suicide: the number who consider it, who try it, and who are successful. Teen suicide doesn't discriminate between race or income level."
Florence continues to fulfill her dream of working in theater as opposed to being thought of as just another singer. Says Florence, "It's ironic, I came to California to work in television and motion pictures; and performing in plays is a big step toward that dream. It has also made me realize that I truly prefer performing live because of the spontaneity and rapport I have with my audience."
Florence was a part of the Ebony Showcase Theater, and starred in the Fats Waller production of Ain't Misbehavin' with glowing reviews. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Florence LaRue is in her usual strong voice and adds a distinctive, classy touch to songs like Cash For Your Trash." Dayton Daily News: "LaRue is the group's best soloist. She has a spunky, infectious personality that blooms with her rendition of "Cash For Your Trash" and "I've Got a Feeling I'm Fallin'." The Flint Journal: "LaRue has a powerful, clear voice that generally enunciates not just every word but every syllable. And LaRue can get no better than when she's singing a dreamy solo like "I've Got a Feeling I'm Fallin'."
In 1995 she starred in the musical, Mo' Magic in Toronto, Canada. Says LaRue, "One of the producers saw me sing the national anthem for a San Diego Chargers game and said I think we've found (our) Eartha."LaRue's character, one of the performers on Neptune's magical bus tour. The musical was extended because of it's popularity. In 1997, she was the lead in the Stage West production of, More Magic (the sequel to Mo' Magic) in Calgary, Canada. Calgary Harold: Headliner LaRue, gets some good licks doing Mary Wells rendition of, "Beat Me To The Punch," and smolders over her own, "One Less Bell To Answer." This black musical leaves one wanting Mo'!!"
LaRue is deeply involved in humanitarian causes. Frank Sinatra was grateful for The 5th Dimension's valuable contribution to the St. John's Hospital Benefit late in 1981. Sinatra: "It was a huge success thanks to your unselfish donation of your marvelous talent...you were wonderful!"
Never one to avoid challenges, it was Florence who initially embraced the cause of abused children, as a charitable effort for the group, and the entire 5th Dimension membership quickly rallied round their leader and offered full support. "Anything involving children has always been of special concern to me. When I became knowledgeable about the plight of neglected and abused children, our group became interested in this very serious problem. There are programs that can and do work," she explains, pointing to the Children's Village, USA in Southern California as one excellent example of a resident facility for abused youngsters which attempts, whether possible, to reunite families, as well as offer special care. "I dream of seeing centers throughout our country which will care for children in pain. I know that this dream can come true, and The 5th Dimension is working to make it so."They headlined a benefit concert at the Coconut Grove for Children's Village, USA, in September 1981.
The 5th Dimension were honored by First Lady Nancy Reagan, Governor Edmund Brown, Jr., and Mayor Tom Bradley, for their efforts on behalf of abused children. In a statement released from The White House, Mrs. Reagan praised Miss LaRue and the rest of the group for their, "selfless love and dedication...caring and devotion..." and "taking time from your busy schedule to lend a helping hand to some very special children." To those words Governor Brown added, "I am pleased to salute The 5th Dimension...By your actions you have demonstrated a special concern for abused and battered youngsters. I believe this concern is essential for the total well being of our state and country." Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles expressed his "deep appreciation to The 5th Dimension for their support in the battle against child abuse and neglect."
In 1984, Florence was awarded Outstanding Alumnus Award at Cal State Los Angeles.
She was also named Woman of the Year in 1986 by the City Of Hope and a research fellowship was established in her name for the study and treatment of gynecological cancer. Florence continues to help raise money for important causes including cancer research, numerous Chamber of Commences, and Arthritis Telethon which she co-hosted with Jane Wyman.
Says Florence, "My parents both have nice voices and I have a sister who sings so much better than I, but she doesn't want to sing in front of people. When I was 4, my mom took me to see Lena Horne at Radio City and that was it for me."
She is a very spiritual person. "Entertainers need to speak out against important issues especially the unnecessary sex and violence displayed in many movies and song lyrics. I've lost jobs because of things I won't do. Just because I'm a Christian doesn't mean I can't enjoy life."
Florence was named one of the 10 most beautiful women in the entertainment world by the Jewelry Executives.
Florence continues to tour throughout the world, embracing her audience with her enormous talent. With her signature song, One Less Bell To Answer, receiving a hearty round of applause when she torches it out in concert. She is the lead singer in The 5th Dimension as they tour throughout the year.
LaRue is divorced and has a son & three grand kids.
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