Dorothy Dandridge

Actor, Singer
This child performer went on to become one of Hollywood's first black female stars. Called a "sepia siren" and the "most beautiful Negro singer since Lena Horne" by LIFE magazine (she was one of the first black female ... Read more »
Born: 11/09/1922 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Filmography

Actor (9)

Moment of Danger 1959 (Movie)

Gianna (Actor)

Tamango 1959 (Movie)

Aiche (Actor)

Porgy and Bess 1958 (Movie)

Bess (Actor)

Island in the Sun 1957 (Movie)

Margot Seaton (Actor)

Carmen Jones 1954 (Movie)

Carmen (Actor)

Bright Road 1953 (Movie)

Jane Richards (Actor)

Hit Parade of 1943 1942 (Movie)

(Actor)

Lady From Louisiana 1940 (Movie)

(Actor)

Sun Valley Serenade 1940 (Movie)

(Actor)

Biography

This child performer went on to become one of Hollywood's first black female stars. Called a "sepia siren" and the "most beautiful Negro singer since Lena Horne" by LIFE magazine (she was one of the first black female stars to appear on the magazine's cover), the tall, willowy beauty reached the pinnacle of stardom as the sultry seductress lead in two exceptional Hollywood musicals, "Carmen Jones" (1954), for which she was the first black woman to receive an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress, and "Porgy and Bess" (1959); ironically her voice was dubbed (by Marilyn Horne and Adele Addison) in both films.

Relationships

Cyril Dandridge

Father
abandoned family

Ruby Dandridge

Mother
appeared in films "Tish" (1942), "Cabin in the Sky" (1943) and "My Wild Irish Rose" (1947) and was a regular on radio programs "The Judy Canova Show" and "Beulah"

Vivian Dandridge

Sister
older

Jack Denison

Husband
married in 1959 divorced 1962 met at a Las Vegas hotel where he was maitre d' Dandridge financed his restaurant and lost her savings before he left her

Phil Moore

Companion
singing coach who shaped Dandridge's voice and polished her nightclub act in the early 1950s

Harold Nicholas Actor

Husband
married on November 2, 1942 met Dandridge while performing at the Cotton Club c. 1938-39 divorced October 1951 formed dancing team The Nicholas Brothers with brother Fayard appeared together in the "Chattanooga Choo Choo" number in "Sun Valley Serenad

Harolyn Nicholas

Daughter
born 1943 father Harold Nicholas born mentally retarded

Otto Preminger Director

Companion
dated after completion of "Carmen Jones" (1954)

Geneva Williams

Family
mother's companion reportedly was abusive to Dorothy and her sister

EDUCATION

studied voice with Lena Horne's singing coach, the composer/arranger Phil Moore who later helped shape the performing style of Diahann Carroll and Julie Wilson

dropped out of high school

enrolled in drama school after her divorce c. 1951

Milestones

1965

Attempted to resurrect career; went to health farm in Mexico with manager Earl Mills and signed new movie contract (date approximate)

1965

Was preparing for an engagement at New York club, Basin Street East, at time of death

1957

Announced to star as Billie Holliday in film adaptation of William Dufty's bestseller, "Lady Sings the Blues"

1953

First starring role in "Bright Road"

1952

Appearance at La Vie en Rose nightclub was a sellout and her fourteen week engagement helped save the club from bankruptcy and led to international stardom, performing in nightclubs in London, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro and Sao P

1951

Returned to nightclub performing; starred at the Mocambo in Hollywood with Desi Arnaz's band

1944

Retired from performing after her marriage (dates approximate)

1940

Peformed at the Cotton Club in Harlem where she met future husband Harold Nicholas (date approximate)

1937

First film appearance (bit) in "A Day in the Races"

1927

Moved to Los Angeles at age four when parents separated (date approximate)

1927

First professional performance at age four in song-and-dance team with sister Vivian billed as "The Wonder Children"; performed before school, church and social groups

Sister Vivian decided to go solo in the mid-1940s

After "Island in the Sun" (1957), made three movies in Europe: "The Decks Ran Red" (1958), Tamango" (1959) and "Malaga" (1962)

Was the first black performer to appear at the Empire Room of the Waldorf Astoria in New York

Left high school and formed the Dandridge Sisters trio--with sister, Vivian, and Etta Jones--which sang with the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra during the 1940s

Around time of divorce from Denison, was forced to file for bankruptcy after creditors closed in

Bonus Trivia

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Posthumously inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1977.

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