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Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography

Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography

by Donald Bogle
Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography

Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography

by Donald Bogle


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Available once again, the definitive biography of the pioneering Black performer—the first nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award—who broke new ground in Hollywood and helped transform American society in the years before Civil Rights movement—a remarkable woman of her time who also transcended it.

 “An ambitious, rigorously researched account of the long-ignored film star and chanteuse. . . . Bogle has fashioned a resonant history of a bygone era in Hollywood and passionately documented the contribution of one of its most dazzling and complex performers."—New York Times Book Review

In the segregated world of 1950s America, few celebrities were as talented, beautiful, glamorous, and ultimately influential as Dorothy Dandridge. Universally admired, she was Hollywood's first full-fledged Black movie star. Film historian Donald Bogle offers a panoramic portrait of Dorothy Dandridge’s extraordinary and ultimately tragic life and career, from her early years as a child performer in Cleveland, to her rise as a nightclub headliner and movie star, to her heartbreaking death at 42.

 Bogle reveals how this exceptionally talented and intensely ambitious entertainer broke down racial barriers by integrating some of America's hottest nightclubs and broke through Tinseltown’s glass ceiling. Along with her smash appearances at venues such as Harlem’s famed Cotton Club, Dorothy starred in numerous films, making history with her role in Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones, playing opposite Harry Belafonte. Her performance earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress—the first Oscar nod for a woman of color.

But Dorothy’s wealth, fame, and success masked a reality fraught with contradiction and illusion. Struggling to find good roles professionally, uncomfortable with her image as a sex goddess, coping with the aftermath of two unhappy marriages and a string of unfulfilling affairs, and overwhelmed with guilt for her disabled daughter, Dorothy found herself emotionally and financially bankrupt—despair that ended in her untimely death.

Woven from extensive research and unique interviews, as magnetic as the woman at its heart, Dorothy Dandridge captures this dazzling entertainer in all her complexity: her strength and vulnerability, her joy and her pain, her trials and her triumphs.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780063079328
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/12/2021
Pages: 752
Sales rank: 442,717
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Donald Bogle is one of the country's leading authorities on African Americans in Hollywood. He is the author of the groundbreaking Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films; the acclaimed biography Dorothy Dandridge; and Brown Sugar: Over 100 Years of America's Black Female Superstars. He teaches at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and at the University of Pennsylvania.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Preface xix

Prologue xxix

Part I

1 Cleveland 3

2 A Hollywood Girlhood 36

3 The Dandridge Sisters 65

4 Career, Courtship, and Marriage 93

5 Lynn 133

Part II

6 Career Thrust 177

7 Rising 228

8 The Saloons 264

9 Making Carmen 297

10 Stardom 348

11 Peaking 405

Part III

12 Making Porgy 463

13 Hoping 498

14 Collapse 547

15 Lonely Days, Long Nights, Last Rites 593

Acknowledgments 651

Book Notes 659

Bibliography 681

The Films of Dorothy Dandridge 685

Index 691

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