Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dorothy Dandridge

Who is Dorothy Dandridge?

Her complete name is Dorothy Jean Dandridge, she was born on November 9, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio and died on September 8, 1965 in west Hollywood, California. She died in a controversial story; follow the brief story about her.

Dorothy Jean Dandridge was an American actress and popular singer. The first African American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, she was also the first African-American woman to appear at the Las Vegas Frontier and the Waldorf-Astoria, as well as the first to be featured on the cover of Life. Dandridge went on to appear on the Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson shows and received good reviews for her nightclub appearances at the Cafe de Paris and the La vie en Rose.

She was rarely attended to school, because of her activity for showing and toured non-stopped.

With the start of the Great Depression, work dried up, as it did for many of the Chitlin' circuit performers. Dandridge's first on-screen appearance was a bit part in a 1935 Our Gang short. In 1937 she appeared in the Marx Brothers feature A Day at the Races, singing a solo in the production number "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm".

In 1954, Broadway play Carmen Jones, with an "all-Negro cast. Dandridge met Preminger to discuss the lead role, but he rejected her for the role because he thought her too sweet and too nice for the part. Carmen Jones grossed $60,000 during the first week and $47,000 in the second upon release in 1955. The film received favorable reviews, and Dandridge was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, becoming only the third African American to receive a nomination in any Academy Award category (after Hattie McDaniel and Ethel Waters). Grace Kelly won for her performance in The Country Girl. At the ceremony, Dandridge presented the Academy Award for Fil Editing to Gene Milford for On the Waterfront.

Dandridge was one of the few Hollywood stars who testified at the 1957 criminal libel trial of Hollywood Research, Inc., the company that published all of the tabloid magazines of the era. She and actress Maureen O'Hara, the only other star who testified, were photographed shaking hands outside the downtown Los Angeles courtroom where the well-publicized trial was held. Testimony from O'Hara, as well as from a disgruntled former magazine editor, revealed that the magazines paid for what turned out to be false information provided by hotel maids and clerks who were paid for stories.

Dandridge's testimony further strengthened the case. Alleged by one tabloid to have fornicated in the woods of Lake Tahoe with a white bandleader in 1950, she testified that racial segregation had confined her to her hotel room during her nightclub run in the Nevada resort city. This proved beyond a doubt that Hollywood Research had committed libel at least once. The verdict curtailed invasive tabloid journalism until many years after Dandridge's death.

On September 8, 1965, Dandridge was found dead by her manager, Earl Mills, in her West Hollywood apartment from an overdose of Imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant. She was 42 years old. Dandridge's death was later ruled accidental.

On September 12, 1965, a private funeral service was held for Dandridge at the Little Chapel of Flowers in Glendale, California.

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