A forgotten gem
50 years ago a vintage icon passed away. Dorothy Dandridge was an actress, singer and dancer, best known for her leading role in the 1954 musical film Carmen Jones.
She left behind a legacy as the first African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress (for her role in Carmen Jones), but tragically died at the young age of 42 on September 8th 1965.
Dorothy’s death remains shrouded in mystery, with the Los Angeles pathology institute and the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office coming to different conclusions as to the cause of her death. The former determined an accidental overdose of Imipramine, and the latter declared she died of a rare embolism, stating: “Miss Dandridge died of a rare embolism – blockage of the blood passages at the lungs and brain by tiny pieces of fat flaking off from bone marrow in a fractured right foot she sustained in a Hollywood film five days before she died.”
Dorothy Dandridge was more than just an entertainer, she was a style icon and an inspiration to many African-American women who followed in her footsteps to stardom. Dorothy struggled with race issues throughout her career, and in the years before her death found it difficult to find leading roles. Much of her fortune was lost when her second husband made bad investment choices, and when they divorced she went on to entertain in nightclubs to try and get by.
Dorothy’s influence in the industry went largely unacknowledged until the 1990’s, when interest in the actress’ legacy picked up again, and in 1999 Halle Berry played Dandridge in HBO movie, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Berry won Golden Globe and Emmy awards for herportrayal of Dandridge.
If I were white, I could capture the world. – Dorothy Dandridge