NAME: Dorothy Dandridge
BIRTH DATE: November 9, 1922
Dorothy Dandridge was born in Cleveland on November 9, 1922 to Ruby and Cyrus Dandridge. She had one older sister, Vivian Dandridge. Dorothy was raised by her mother and her mother's friend, a woman by the name of Geneva Williams.
LIFE HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Vivian and Dorothy performed as children. They had an act called The Wonder Children. Their act included singing, dancing, acrobatics, and skits. In the summer of 1938 they were booked at the Cotton Club. They performed along with Etta Jones and were known as the Dandridge Sisters.
Dorothy met Harold Nicholas, the youngest brother in the famous Nicholas Brothers act, while performing at the Cotton Club. They were married in 1942. Dorothy was 19 years old at the time. Harold did not turn out to be an ideal husband. He carried on affairs with other women and did not spend a lot of time at home. Dorothy gave birth to a daughter, Harolyn, in 1943. Dorothy soon discovered that her daughter had brain damage and eventually Dorothy had to put her in someone else's care.
Dorothy eventually divorced Harold and pursued her career. She worked with Phil Moore and refined her night club act. Dorothy's provocative singing act gained her popularity. She was booked in clubs throughout California and Las Vegas. She was often confronted by racism but continued to perform despite this discouragement. Her work in night clubs brought her the popularity she needed to begin getting roles in films. In 1951 Dorothy played in Tarzan's Peril and then in The Harlem Globetrotters.
She returned to the night club scene and appeared at prestigious clubs such as The Mocambo, Cafe de Paris, and La Vie en Rose. She was also the first black woman to perform at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Dorothy then starred with Harry Belafonte in Bright Road in 1952. In 1954, Dorothy played the much coveted role of Carmen Jones. This movie brought her fame and recognition. She received an Academy Award nomination for her role in the film. She was the first black woman in history to receive the honor of being nominated in the category of Best Actress.
Dorothy played in other movies after this accomplishment, including Porgy and Bess and Island in the Sun. However, she found that despite her fame, it was hard finding work as a black actress. The forces of racism were too strong. In 1963 Dorothy Dandridge filed for bankruptcy after a failed marriage to Jack Denison and a series of bad investments. It seemed that her career had gone downhill. She began to drink heavily and was found dead in her apartment on September 8,1965. She died of an overdose of Tofranil, an antidepressant that had been prescribed for her.
DATE OF DEATH: September 8, 1965
Dorothy Dandridge from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
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