Happy Birthday Dorothy

One of the most accomplished actresses of her time, she set a high on screen standard for the African-American female film stars who followed and continue to follow her. As a child, I wanted to be her, dreamed of being as beautiful as her and loved her movies.  She rose to the top of her profession with her first starring role and became the first African-American woman to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. But, just as fast as her success was achieved, so did it begin to fade. She had the drive and the talent to make it but the color of her skin held her back and her life soon began a downward spiral which in the end turned tragic. She is described as a kind and extremely giving individual who wanted to please everyone.

To support herself and to make contacts, she established herself as a nightclub singer, appearing at important clubs throughout the country. After appearing in a couple of low-budget films, her major breakthrough came when she was cast opposite Harry Belafonte in "Bright Road" (1953). Soon afterward, Dandridge won the coveted title role in Otto Preminger's "Carmen Jones" (1954), an all-black adaptation of George Bizet's opera "Carmen." Her performance in Carmen Jones won her an Academy Award nomination, the first for an African-American. She continued to work in nightclubs, but it was three years before she made another film. That same year, she won the Golden Globe Award for best actress in a musical film for her role in the film. Dorothy Dandridge made historic contributions to her profession and her race despite being stereotyped and having only a small number of significant roles. She blazed a new path by showing that African-American women could handle starring roles in white-dominated films. By the end of her short life, Dorothy Dandridge had brought the black actress in films from behind the shadows and had emerged as Hollywood's first authentic movie goddess of color. --courtesy, The Biography of Dorothy Dandridge, a book I read from cover to cover a few years ago

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