Black History

Dorothy Dandridge

Dorothy Dandridge was an actress and singer. She was also the first African American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress.

There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.” -Dorothy Dandridge

71a1650be479f840d50796c2db03a608-157089Dorothy Dandridge was an actress and singer. She was also the first African American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. Dandridge was born on November 9, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio. Dandridge was pushed into showbiz at an early age by her mother, who was an actress. Dandridge performed with her sister as a song-and-dance team for a while, known as “The Wonder Children”. In the 1930’s, she moved to Los Angeles, California with her family in search of fame. She found success with her singing trio, the Dandridge Sisters. They were confronted with segregation early on, even though she was allowed to perform on stage, she wasn’t able to eat in the restaurant or use certain facilities because of the color of her skin. She appeared in many films in her teenage years. In the 1940’s she danced with Harold Nicholas of the dancing Nicholas Brothers.

Dandridge became an international star, performing at glamorous venues in London, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, and New York. She landed her first starring film role in 1953’s Bright Road. With her sultry looks and flirtatious style, Dandridge was the first African American to earn and Academy Award nomination. Unfortunately, she lost the award, but she still had success afterwards. She was well on her way to becoming the first non-white actress to achieve the kind of superstardom that had accrued to most contemporaries such as Marilyn Monroe. After the years of success with Carmen Jones, Dandridge had trouble finding roles that suited her talent.

On September 8, 1965, Dandridge was found dead in her Hollywood home. Her death was ruled as an overdose. In the late 1990’s there was a biography released, Dorothy Dandridge, by Donald Bogle and a 2-week retrospective at New York City’s Film Forum. She was portrayed by Halle Berry in an HBO movie, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Dandridge contributed a lot to the role of African-Americans in film.

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