Dorothy Dandridge - "Dat's Love"
In appreciation of Black History Month, all of February will feature Black and Mixed Race artists.
She is an icon, a star, and the Beyonce of her time. Sadly her time wasn't ready for a Beyonce, so we can thank Mrs. Dandridge for the Beyonce of today. I mean just listen to her destroy these runs from Bizet that have taken trained opera singers decades to master. She was an incredible artist and child prodigy. If we had only had eyes open enough to see her.
Dorothy Jean Dandridge (November 9, 1922 – September 8, 1965) was an African American film and theatre actress, singer, and dancer. She is perhaps best known for being the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1954 film Carmen Jones, a retelling of the Opera "Carmen" with Bizet's music and updated lyrics. 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.
In 1959 Dandridge was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Porgy and Bess. She is the subject of the 1999 HBO biographical film, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. She has been recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 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 under mysterious circumstances at age 42.
Many years passed before the entertainment industry acknowledged Dandridge's legacy. Starting in the 1980s, stars such as Cicely Tyson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Halle Berry, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine, Tasha Smith, and Angela Bassett acknowledged Dandridge's contributions to the role of Black Americans in film.
In 1995 movie To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, Wesley Snipes played "Noxeema Jackson", a drag queen whose dream is to play Dorothy Dandridge in a movie about her life and work, since she admires her and knows all her career.
In 1999, Halle Berry took the lead role of Dandridge in the HBO Movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, which she also produced and for which she won the Primetime Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award. When Berry won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Monster's Ball, she dedicated the "moment [to] Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll." Both Dandridge and Berry were from Cleveland, Ohio and were, in fact, born in the same hospital.
For her contributions to the motion picture industry, she was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 6721 Hollywood Boulevard. Dorothy Dandridge is also the most prominent figure of a huge mural of celebrities painted on an exterior wall of Hollywood High School.
There is a statue of Dorothy Dandridge at Hollywood-La Brea Boulevard in Los Angeles, designed by Catherine Hardwicke, built to honor multi-ethnic leading ladies of the cinema, including Mae West, Dolores del Río and Anna May Wong.
Recording artist Janelle Monáe performs a song entitled "Dorothy Dandridge Eyes" on her album The Electric Lady, with Esperanza Spalding.
A character in the 1969 movie The Lost Man states she named herself after Dandridge, citing that 'I loved her [...] it was a terrible tragedy when she died.'
In the February 2016 episode of Black-ish entitled "Sink or Swim", Dre refers to Beyoncé as being the "Dorothy Dandridge" of our time, pointing out the star power of Dandridge during her day.
So today with hutzpah and a harrumph I choose Dorothy Dandridge's "Dat's Love" as my, ahead of your time, never dim your shine, burn as brightly as you can for as long as you can, song for a, if they aren't ready it's their loss, never be anything less than your best, acceptance comes after hard won battles, Friday.