1. Dorothy Dandridge, 1922-1965Source:Getty
Dorothy Dandridge, Black cinema icon and groundbreaker, would have been 93 years old today. While most of us know her for her biopic film, where she was portrayed by Halle Berry, the superstar made strides in her industry long before it was commonplace to see Black women on screen. Check out these five facts about the beautiful and talented star as #TeamBeautiful wishes her a happy birthday.
2. Dorothy DandridgeSource:Getty
Dandridge was the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film “Carmen Jones,” released in 1954. The film was groundbreaking as an all-black musical adaptation of Hammerstein’s 1943 musical. Dandridge famously dressed down as a schoolteacher for her screen tests after director Ottom Preminger felt she was too sophisticated.
3. Dorothy DandridgeSource:Getty
Much like the stars of today, Dandridge stood up to tabloid mags taking salacious photos and publishing fabricated, gossip-like stories obtained through paying off hotel employees, maids & clerks. In 1957, Dandridge testified against Hollywood Research, Inc. for publishing the stories, which often centered around casual sex. The move is said to have halted the publishing of similar stories for years.
4. Dorothy DandridgeSource:Getty
While Dandridge is known for her box office hits like “Carmen” and “Bright Road” (seen here in 1953), she also starred in a film about an early 19th-century slave revolt called “Tamango.” Dandridge played the slave mistress of a Dutch trader. She is kidnapped by slaves revolting aboard the ship before ultimately participating herself. The film was too controversial for many American studios and was a flop.
5. Dorothy DandridgeSource:Getty
Dandridge was known for her beauty and sex appeal, but she often dismissed her good looks, instead wanting to be known for her immense talent. She once said, “America was not geared to make me into a Liz Taylor, a Monroe, a Gardner,” she recalled. “My sex symbolism was as a wanton, a prostitute, not as a woman seeking love and a husband like other women.”
6. Dorothy DandridgeSource:Getty
Dandridge often starred alongside her friend, Harry Belafonte, who has praised the star consistently. In 2012, he told NewsOne’s Roland Martin, “I don’t think a Black woman has ever paid as great a price for her Blackness than did Dorothy Dandridge … There was not a system in place to take her on to the next logical extension of a successful career.”
7. Dorothy DandridgeSource:Getty
Like Halle Berry, who played her in the HBO film, “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” Dorothy was from Cleveland, Ohio. When Berry won the Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actor’s Guild Award for her portrayal of Dandridge, as well as the Oscar for “Monster’s Ball,” she thanked Dandridge for her contributions to American cinema.
8. Dorothy DandridgeSource:Getty
Dandridge’s personal life was filled with tragic stories. In 1942, she married dancer Harold Nicholas, with whom she had a daughter, Harolyn, before divorcing in 1951. The baby was born with brain damage and later, when Dandridge encountered financial problems in the early 1960s, she was forced to place her daughter in a mental institution. Dandridge spent the next few years struggling with crippling depression.