The Life and Death of Dorothy Dandridge

Dorothy Jean Dandridge (November 9, 1922 – September 8, 1965) was an American film and theatre actress , singer, and dancer. She is perhaps best known for being the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1954 film Carmen Jones. Dandridge performed as a vocalist in venues such as the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater. During her early career, she performed as a part of The Wonder Children, later The Dandridge Sisters, and appeared in a succession of film s, usually in uncredited roles. In 1959 she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Porgy and Bess. She is the subject of the 1999 HBO biographical film , Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. She has been recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Dandridge was married and divorced twice, first to dancer Harold Nicholas (the father of her daughter, Harolyn Suzanne) and then to hotel owner Jack Denison. Dandridge died under mysterious circumstances at age 

Dorothy Dandridge was born on November 9, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio to aspiring entertainer Ruby Dandridge (née Butler) (March 3, 1900 – October 17, 1987) and Cyril Dandridge (October 25, 1895 – July 9, 1989), a cabinetmaker and Baptist minister, who had separated just before her birth. Ruby created a song-and-dance act for her two young daughters, Vivian and Dorothy, under the name The Wonder Children, that was managed by Geneva Williams. The sisters toured the Southern United States almost nonstop for five years (rarely attending school), while Ruby worked and performed in Cleveland.

 

On September 8, 1965, Dandridge spoke by telephone with friend and former sister-in-law Geraldine “Geri” Branton. Dandridge was scheduled to fly to New York the next day to prepare for her nightclub engagement at Basin Street East. Branton told biographers that during the long conversation, Dandridge had veered from expressing hope for the future to singing Barbra Streisand’s “People” in its entirety to making this cryptic remark moments before hanging up on her: “Whatever happens, I know you will understand.” Several hours after her conversation with Branton ended, Dandridge was found dead and naked by her manager, Earl Mills. Two months later, a Los Angeles pathology institute determined the cause to be an accidental overdose of imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant. Yet the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office came to a different conclusion: “Miss Dandridge died of a rare embolism—blockage of the blood passages at the lungs and brain by tiny pieces of fat flaking off from bone marrow in a fractured right foot she sustained in a Hollywood gymnasium five days before she died.” She was 42 years old.

The Life and Death of Dorothy Dandridge

Dorohty Dandridge was the first black woman to be nominated for an Oscar after her role in Carmen Jones.Dorothy had problems with depression threw out her …

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