Dandridge, Dorothy (1924-1965)

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Dandridge, Dorothy (1924-1965)

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, actor-singer-entertainer Dorothy Dandridge was smart, immensely talented, and alluringly beautiful. In her three-decade career in Hollywood she endured the bittersweet distinction of being the first sexy black woman film artist of the postwar period. Dandridge attempted to forge a career in Hollywood when the only roles for black women were as servants, or in brief, non-speaking cameo roles. Dandridge claimed a number of "firsts": she was the first African American woman to grace the covers of Life magazine; the first black woman to showcase the posh, all-white Waldorf-Astoria; and the first black woman to receive an Oscar nomination for a leading role. Dandridge's film credits include Bright Road (1953), Carmen Jones (1954), Tamango (1957), Island in the Sun (1957), The Decks Ran Red (1958), Porgy and Bess (1959) and Malanga (1959). Dandridge's tragedy-filled life and her mysterious death on September 8, 1965, resulted in exposés, film biographies, and a major biography.

—Pamala S. Deane

Further Reading:

Bogle, Donald. Blacks in American Films and Television. New York:Garland, 1988.

——. Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography, New York, Amistad, 1997.

Dandridge, Dorothy, and Earl Conrad. Everything and Nothing: The Dorothy Dandridge Tragedy. New York, Abelard-Schuman, 1970.

"Dorothy Dandridge, 41, Found Dead in Home." Washington Evening Star. September 9, 1965.

"Dorothy Dandridge, Victim of Freak Fall." The Afro American(Baltimore, Maryland). September 18, 1965.

"Dorothy Dandridge's Greatest Triumph." Ebony. July, 1954.

"Hollywood's New Glamour Queen." Ebony. April, 1951.

"Island In the Sun: Dandridge, Belafonte Star in Romantic Interracial Film." Ebony. July, 1957.

Johnson, Albert. "Beige, Brown, or Black." Film Quarterly. Fall, 1959.

"The Private World of Dorothy Dandridge." Ebony. June, 1962.

Robinson, Louie. "Dorothy Dandridge: Hollywood's Tragic Enigma." Ebony. March, 1966.