Dorothy Dandridge /

If I were white I could capture the world

Dorothy Dandridge was a star: the first African American woman to appear on the cover of the famous Life magazine and the first African American woman to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a major motion picture.

Born into an unhappy domestic situation in 1920s Cleveland, Ohio, Dorothy and her sister Vivian enjoyed some success performing as The Wonder Children during their childhood. As they grew older, they began singing in nightclubs as The Dandridge Sisters.

Dorothy, by now a great beauty, eventually went solo and married dancer Harold Nicholas in 1941. By the Fifties, she was proving a success in Hollywood too starring in the films, Bright Road and Carmen Jones which she was nominated for an Oscar for.

Beautiful and talented, singer, dancer and actress Dorothy faced many obstacles in life, suffering in her early years from the ambitions of her mother’s overbearing lover, later from the illness of her daughter and the racism she encountered and endured.

A final disastrous marriage pushed her towards bankruptcy, substance abuse and her final tragic death from a drug overdose in 1965. It was a sad end to an extraordinary talent and a career that had promised so much more.