Dorothy Jean Dandridge was born in Cleveland, Ohio on November 9th 1923. Dorothy began her public performances at black Baptist churches across the country. Due to the depression and the economy worsening, Dorothy and her family were forced to pack up and move to California where employment was more easily available. Dorothy’s first film was in the Marx Brothers comedy, A Day at the Races in 1937. It was a small part but Dorothy had hopes that it would lead into something more.
It was a tough world for a person of color and Dorothy didn’t have many of the opportunities that other actresses of the time were given. It would not be until 1940 that she managed to land another small part, it was not great but it set the stage for her future. Dorothy began to get the typical black stereotype rolls, but in between she was given a few other movies. Her bigger roles in the early forties included films such as ‘Bahama Passage’ in 1941, ‘Drums of the Congo’ in 1942, and ‘Change of Heart’ in 1943.
Dorothy was given many opportunities to display her talents as a singer and brought her headline acts in the nation's finest hotel nightclubs in New York, Miami, Chicago, and Las Vegas. She may have been allowed to sing in these fine hotels, but because of racism, she couldn't stay there.
Her last dance with the silver screen would be in 1961's The Murder Men. Dorothy faded quickly after that with a disastrous second marriage to Jack Denison, poor investments, along with other financial problems, and addition Dorothy had a problem with alcohol.
She was found dead in her West Hollywood apartment on September 8, 1965, the victim of a sleeping pill overdose.
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