"If I were white, I could
capture the world."



Dorothy Dandridge

Born: November 9, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio
Spouse/Dating: First Husband: Harold Nicholas (black) / Second Husband: Jack Denison (white)
Children: ) -- Harolyn (daughter with Harold Nicholas)
Family: Parents divorced. Father: Cyrus (lived with his mother) -- Mother: Ruby Dandridge (actress)
Education: Private tutoring
Burial Location: Little Church of the Flowers at Forest Lawn


Awards:
>1955 Nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress in "Carmen Jones" (1954)
>1960 Won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in "Porgy and Bess" (1959)


Film Credits Include:
>1961 The Murder Men
>1960 Malaga
>1959 Porgy And Bess
>1958 The Decks Ran Red
>1958 Tamango
>1957 Island In The Sun
>1957 The Happy Road
>1954 Carmen Jones
>1953 Bright Road
>1953 Remains To Be Seen
>1951 The Harlem Globetrotters
>1951 Jungle Queen
>1951 Tarzan's Peril
>1947 Ebony Parade
>1945 Pillow To Post
>1944 Atlantic City
>1944 Since You Went Away
>1943 Change of Heart
>1943 Hit Parade of 1943
>1942 Drums of the Congo
>1942 Lucky Jordan
>1942 Ride 'Em Cowboy
>1941 Sundown
>1941 Sun Valley Serenade
>1941 Lady From Louisiana
>1941 Bahama Passage
>1940 Four Shall Die
>1940 Irene
>1937 Going Places
>1937 It Can't Last Forever
>1937 A Day At The Races
>1937 The Big Broadcast of 1936
>1935 Teacher's Beau

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Dorothy Dandridge (cont.)

   American singer and film actress, Dorothy Jean Dandridge, was the first black woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress, but her life was a tragedy that was finally captured on film when HBO defied the major network's refusal of the project and filmed the Golden Globe award winning movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge."
   She was a fragile beauty nickname Dottie, born on November 9,1922, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents, Cyril and Ruby Dandridge, had a brief, troubled marriage which ended when Ruby walked out on Cyril because she thought of him as a loser who would never amount to anything. Soon after leaving Cyril, Ruby met the domineering Geneva Williams who was to be her near lifelong lover and teacher to Dorothy and her older sister Vivian. Geneva taught the girls how to sing, dance and play piano, but Dorothy always hated Geneva's intimidating demands for perfection and the frequent beatings that the woman dished out.
   Ruby and Geneva saw the girls as their meal ticket and they moved to Nashville where they helped the girls put an act together. They were soon billing the sisters as The Wonder Children and it wasn't long before the naturally talented duo signed with the National Baptist Convention to tour churches across the southern U.S. They were only four to six years old. On the road, Geneva reigned closely over the girls by playing piano while Dorothy and Vivian performed. While the girls and Geneva worked on stage , Ruby acted as business manager and the family spent the next three years on the road. Educationally, the girls were tutored, but the demanding Geneva made it clear that their acting career was more important.
   The Great Depression ended their road trip, but the experience taught the girls how to work an audience and also opened their eyes to the brutal reality of racism that was so rampant in the deep South then.
   Ruby decided that the family should move to Hollywood. She felt the girls were ready to try their luck in the movie industry. The girls went to school during the day and their afternoons were committed to dance lessons. Despite their busy schedule, Dorothy and Vivian made friends with another talented girl named Etta Jones. Spotting an opportunity, Geneva put the trio together as a singing act and renamed the girls The Dandridge Sisters. They performed in theater gigs throughout Southern California. Ruby's intuition proved itself right on when the girls were finally cast in "The Big Broadcast of 1936" with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1936), and Dorothy's bit part in the Marx Brothers comedy, "A Day At The Races" (1937). Cameo parts in several movies followed as their growing reputation caught the attention of more and more producers and directors. In 1938 they won the gig of a lifetime when they were booked to play at New York City's celebrated Cotton Club.
   Geneva moved the girls to New York, but Ruby stayed behind in LA. She was just starting a budding film career and wanted to stay behind to pursue her own

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Dorothy Dandridge (cont.)

dream. It wasn't long after the girls started at the Cotton Club that Dorothy met the Nicholas Brothers dance team. Star struck 16 year-old Dorothy began dating Harold Nicholas and the two became extremely close. Their relationship was cut short, however, when the girls moved to Europe to start a world tour that was, itself, cut short by the start of World War II. Geneva moved the girls back to Hollywood to be with their mother again, where Dorothy once again met up with Harold Nicholas, who was there filming "Down Argentine Way" with his brother Fayard.
   The Dandridge Sisters act didn't last long after their return to LA. Dorothy, like her mother, wanted her own film career and she began pursuing it by landing roles in " Four Shall Die" and "Lady From Louisiana" and "Sundown." She couldn't have known it at the time, but when she was cast with the Nicholas Brothers to perform 'Chattanooga Choo Choo' in the film "Sun Valley Serenade," she was making film history. That scene has become one of Hollywood's beloved movie classics. It was during this time that Dorothy agreed to marry Harold Nicholas.
   After her marriage, Dorothy gave up her film career for the quiet life of a homemaker. She and Harold had a baby girl and a stereotypical 40's home life was all Dorothy seemed to want. Unfortunately, Harold was a ladies man and his work kept him constantly on the road where he dated other women. Also, sadly, Dorothy's daughter, Harolyn, was diagnosed as retarded. With the pressures of an unfaithful husband and a physically demanding child, Dorothy sought help from a therapist, the first sign of emotional instability that would recur throughout her life.
   She divorced the philandering Harold in 1949 (Harold would later say, "Dorothy truly was a good woman." He regretted what he'd done and admitted that he should have treated her better.). Her mother and Geneva took over as caretakers for her daughter as Dorothy tried to revamp her career.
   She started out in nightclubs, putting together a steamy act and image that garnered great publicity that led to club dates in New York, Miami, Chicago, and Paris. She became the first black actress to perform in the Waldorf Astoria's Empire Room in New York City. During this time, she also made numerous television appearances and also performed in a very racist Las Vegas, as did the Nicholas Brothers, and like them, she too was not allowed to talk to customers or use any pools, elevators or other facilities enjoyed by white patrons. It was reported that one hotel even went so far as to drain their swimming pool just to keep her out of it. About the prejudice of the day, she once remarked, "It is such a waste. It gives you nothing. It takes away."
   Despite the racism of the time, her growing popularity eventually led to film roles again starting in 1951 as Melmendi in "Tarzan's Peril." This was followed by "Bright Road" with Harry Belafonte in 1953 and then her greatest role as Carmen