Friday, February 21, 2014

Honoring Black History Month: Dorothy Dandridge

Photo Credit: Google Image Search
For me, Dorothy Dandridge will always be an iconic beauty that stood out and made her mark, during the darkest periods in history for women of color. Dorthy Dandridge was a famous actress and singer who is best remembered as the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress for her leading role in Carmen Jones.
Photo Credit: Google Image Search (Dandridge as Carmen Jones)

As a child and teen she began performing with her sister, Vivian. She performed with legends such as the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra and Cab Calloway. She also performed at the then-famous, Cotton Club in Harlem. Eventually Dandridge would move on her own as a performer. As a teen, she made her film debuts in films such as A Day at the Races and Going Places with Louis Amrstrong. Despite her break into film at a young age, Dandridge still faced discrimination for the color of her skin when she would perform at venues. During that time, certain facilities were designated for people pf color to use that were separate from white Americans.

Still, Dandridge performed in several films throughout her career. Some of the most notable was 1953's Bright Road,  her signature and Academy-nominated role; Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess with Sidney Poitier. Dandridge also received a Golden Globe Award nomination  for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her her role in Porgy and Bessy. Despite her tragic death in 1965, Dorothy Dandridge accomplished a lot during her lifetime.

Photo Credit: Google Image Search
She suffered great prejudice but her talent ultimately spoke for itself. Although she was never properly recognized and rewarded in her lifetime, she is remembered for how she paved the way for many African American actresses to follow in her footsteps. In 1999 Halle Berry would shine a light on Dandridge's legacy with the film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. She is definitely a talent that is to never be forgotten.  You can check out a clip of her performing in 1953 at the Velvet Nightclub on Youtube

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