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BHM Fashion Tribute: Dorothy Dandridge

Submitted by on February 12, 2010 – 10:42 am2 Comments

Dorothy Dandridge paved the way for African American actresses.

The Ohio born actress and singer was the first African American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

How fitting that Halle Berry played Dorothy in the documentary, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, and soon after became the first African American woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress – which she dedicated to Dorothy during her memorable speech.

Along with Halle, actresses like Angela Bassett and Whitney Houston have also expressed how the late starlet has inspired them.

Whitney purchased the rights to Donald Bogle‘s book, Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography, back in 1995.

“I have always been intrigued by Dorothy Dandridge and the triumphs and tragedies of her life”, Whitney has said.

One aspect of Dorothy that was highly intriguing, then and now, is her classic style.

She exuded sophistication, charm and sex appeal with her pin-up girl look.

Dorothy had even admitted that she wasn’t the greatest singer, but these qualities alone got her far.

Ella Fitzgerald is one of the most talented people in the world, and it embarrasses me that she cannot work the rooms that I work. The reason for it is so horrible. She’s not sexy. The men in the audience don’t want to take her home and go to bed.  And yet she’s up there singing her heart out for one-third of the money they’re paying me.  And I resent being in that category.”

The film for which she was nominated an Academy Award for as Best Actress was the 1954 hit musical, Carmen Jones.

In 1992, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

In terms of aesthetics, the styling of the film is still referred to today. Dorothy confidently rocked an elegant scarf dress, a flirty salsa dancer look, complete with a red rose in her hair, and many more visual delights.

Dorothy didn’t stop there – she went on to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in the 1959 musical/comedy Porgy and Bess.

Her personal life was somewhat of a roller coaster.

After two failed marriages, and giving birth to a severely disabled child, Dorothy tragically passed away in 1965 of an antidepressant drug overdose.

She was only 42 years-old.

Check out this tribute video of the effortlessly glamorous Dorothy, featuring highlights of her career:

Source: 55 Secret Street, Encyclopedia

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