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Dorothy Dandridge was an American actress and popular singer, and was the first African American to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress.
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A short biography of Dorothy Dandridge, who started out in the familial duo The Dandridge Sisters. Her breakthrough role in "Carmen Jones" led to her becoming the first African-American woman nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress.
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Born on November 9, 1922, in Cleveland, Ohio, Dorothy Dandridge sang at Harlem's Cotton Club and Apollo Theatre and became the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. Many years passed before the mainstream entertainment industry acknowledged Dandridge's legacy. In 1999, Halle Berry played Dandridge in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.
America was not geared to make me into a Liz Taylor, a Monroe, a Gardner.
Born on November 9, 1922, in Cleveland, Ohio, Dorothy Dandridge sang at Harlem's famed Cotton Club and Apollo Theatre and became the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. Her ability to break new ground for African American women in film has drawn comparisons between her and baseball great Jackie Robinson.
In her childhood, Dandridge experienced some difficulties. She never knew her father. Her mother, actress Ruby Dandridge, left her father while she was pregnant with Dorothy. Dandridge later suffered at the hands of her mother's girlfriend, Geneva Williams. Williams was the displinarian in the family and was known for being strict and cruel with Dandridge.
Dandridge was pushed into show business at a young age by her mother. Dandridge performed with her sister Vivian for a time as a song-and-dance team billed as "The Wonder Children." The girls performed throughout the South, playing black churches and other places.
In the 1930s (one source says 1929), Dandridge moved to Los Angeles, California, with her family in search of stardom. She found some success with her musical trio, the Dandridge Sisters. The group included Dorothy, her sister Vivian and Etta Jones. They performed with the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra and Cab Calloway. The duo even played gigs at the famous Cotton Club in Harlem. As an African American singer, Dandridge confronted early on the segregation and racism of the entertainment industry. She may have allowed on stage, but in some venues she couldn't eat in the restaurant or use certain facilities because of the color of her skin.
As a teenager, Dandridge began to appear in small roles in a number of films. She and her sister appeared in the Marx Brothers film A Day at the Races (1937). The Dandridge Sisters appeared in Going Places (1939) with Louis Armstrong. On her own, she danced with Harold Nicholas of the dancing Nicholas Brothers in the 1941 Sonja Henie musical Sun Valley Serenade. The duo's tap dancing routine was cut from the version of the film shown in the South. She played an African princess in Drums of the Congo (1942).
That same year, she married Harold Nicholas. But their union proved to be anything but a happy one. During their turbulent marriage, Dandridge virtually retired from performing. Nicholas reportedly liked to chase other women. But her greatest heartbreak came in 1943 with the birth of her first and only child. She was stuck home alone when she went into labor. Dandridge blamed her husband for their daughter's severe brain damage. Dandridge paid for their daughter Harolyn to receive private care.
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