Happy Birthday, Dorothy DandridgePublished by Clay Cane on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 12:00 am.
If Dorothy Dandridge were still alive, today would be her 88th birthday. Unfortunately, Dandridge died of an accidental overdose in 1965 at 42 years old.
Before Halle Berry, Beyonce Knowles, Diana Ross, Diahann Carroll and so many others, there was Dorothy Dandridge. The original triple threat, she danced, sang, acted and became a household name. Even through the savagery of racism in every corner of America, Dandridge rose above, in some ways becoming a victim in Hollywood, but in more ways paving the way for every single person of color in the entertainment industry. She was the first African-American woman to be nominated for a best actress Oscar, she demanded the same salary as White actresses, in 1955 she graced the cover of Life magazine and eventually refused to play a slave in films. But in the end, Hollywood turned on Dandridge.
Nonetheless, Dorothy Dandridge’s legacy has been restored, luckily due to Halle Berry’s Emmy-winning performance in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. In my interview with Diahann Carroll, the actress told me about Dandridge. “She was very sweet to me and always very giving. But, she was not well-focused about who she was. The industry tested her in every way possible because there were roles that would’ve been wonderful for her but she was Black—that really wreaked havoc with her, as it did with all of us. I did find her, let’s say… confused about an awful lot of things. Not that we all aren’t, but Dorothy more so.”
Check out one of Dandridge’s classic moments below with Louis Armstrong.
Louis Armstrong and Dorothy Dandridge-Harlem on Parade
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