Dorothy Dandrige


Dorothy Jean Dandridge (November 9, 1922 – September 8, 1965) was a film and theatre actress, singer, and dancer. She is one of the earliest African-American movie stars and the first woman of color to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, for her performance in Otto Preminger‘s Carmen Jones (1954), with Harry Belafonte. She was later nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in Preminger’s Porgy and Bess (1959), with Sidney Poitier, Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey, Brock Peters, and Diahann Carroll.

Dandridge performed as a vocalist in venues such as the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater. During her early career, she performed as a part of The Wonder Children, later The Dandridge Sisters, and appeared in a succession of films, usually in uncredited roles. Uncredited film roles include A Day at the Races (1937), with the Marx Brothers; Going Places (1938), with Dick Powell; Ride ‘Em Cowboy (1942), with Abbott & Costello; Since You Went Away (1944), with Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, and Shirley Temple; and Pillow to Post (1945), with Ida Lupino, Sydney Greenstreet, and William Prince.

Credited roles include Bahama Passage (1941), with Madeleine Carroll and Sterling Hayden; Henry Hathaway‘s Sundown (1941), with Gene Tierney, Bruce Cabot, George Sanders, and Harry Carey; Lady from Louisiana (1941), with John Wayne and Ona Munson; Robert Rossen‘s Island in the Sun (1957), with James Mason, Harry Belafonte, Joan Fontaine, Joan Collins, Michael Rennie, Stephen Boyd, Patricia Owens, John Justin, Diana Wynyard, John Williams, and Basil Sydney; Tomango (1958), with Curt Jurgens; The Decks Ran Red (1958), with Mason, Broderick Crawford, and Stuart Whitman; and Malaga (1960), with Trevor Howard and Edmund Purdom.

Dandridge was married and divorced twice, first to dancer Harold Nicholas (the father of her daughter, Harolyn Suzanne) and then to hotel owner Jack Denison. Dandridge died at age 42 on September 8, 1965; the cause of death was a fat embolism resulting from a right foot fracture sustained five days previously. A TV movie was made about her, Introducing Dorothy Dandrige (1999), starring Halle Berry, who would win an Emmy and Golden Globe for her performance. Berry would go on to be the first actress of color to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for Monster’s Ball (2000).

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Teacher’s Beau (1935) – directed by Gus Meins – short
  • The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935) – directed by Norman Taurog
  • Easy to Take (1936) – directed by Glenn Tryon – uncredited
  • A Day at the Races (1937) – directed by Sam Wood – uncredited
  • It Can’t Last Forever (1937) – directed by Hamilton MacFadden – uncredited
  • Snow Gets in Your Eyes (1938) – directed by Will Jason – short – uncredited
  • Going Places (1938) – directed by Ray Enright – uncredited
  • Irene (1940) – directed by Herbert Wilcox – uncredited
  • Four Shall Die (1940) – directed by William Beaudine
  • Lady from Louisiana (1941) – directed by Bernard Vorhaus
  • Sun Valley Serenade (1941) – directed by H. Bruce Humberstone
  • Sundown (1941) – directed by Henry Hathaway
  • Bahama Passage (1941) – directed by Edward H. Griffith
  • Ride ‘Em Cowboy (1942) – directed by Arthur Lubin – uncredited
  • The Night Before the Divorce (1942) – directed by Robert Siodmak – uncredited
  • Drums of the Congo (1942) – directed by Christy Cabanne
  • Night in New Orleans (1942) – directed by William Clemens – uncredited
  • Lucky Jordan (1942) – directed by Frank Tuttle – uncredited
  • Happy Go Lucky (1943) – directed by Curtis Bernhardt – uncredited
  • Hit Parade of 1943 (1943) – directed by Albert S. Rogell – aka Change of Heart
  • Moo Cow Boogie (1943) – directed by Josef Berne – short
  • Since You Went Away (1944) – directed by John Cromwell – understand
  • Atlantic City (1944) – directed by Ray McCarey
  • Pillow to Post (1945) – directed by
  • Vincent Sherman – uncredited
  • Swingtime Jamboree (1946) – directed by William Forest Crouch
  • Tarzan’s Peril (1951) – directed by Byron Haskin
  • The Harlem Globetrotters (1951) – directed by Phil Brown & Will Jason
  • Bright Road (1953) – directed by Gerald Mayer
  • Remains to Be Seen (1953) – directed by Don Weis
  • Carmen Jones (1954) – directed by Otto Preminger
  • Island in the Sun (1957) – directed by Robert Rossen
  • Tamango (1958) – directed by John Berry
  • The Decks Ran Red (1958) – directed by Andrew L. Stone – aka Infamy
  • Porgy and Bess (1959) – directed by Otto Preminger
  • Malaga (1960) – directed by László Benedek – aka Moment of Danger
  • Marco Polo (1962) – directed by Christian-Jacque – unfinished