Geri Branton, Dorothy Dandridge’s best friend and former sister in law, said that the Hollywood legend could never accept racism.
"That was one of her tragedies - she couldn’t come to grips with that. And when exceptions were made with her - she couldn’t accept that, either. She was allowed to go through the casinos in Las Vegas, others (blacks) couldn’t. That really embarrassed her and caused her great guilt - she really tortured herself. "
Dorothy Jean Dandridge went up against the racial barriers that existed for black entertainers. Although breaking down such barriers was not an easy task. she did it. Unfortunately, Dottie was ultimately torn apart by the very world that she was trying so very hard to change. It will always sadden me that her life and legacy does not get the full appreciation and recognition that is so rightfully deserved.
Dorothy Dandridge in publicity photos for the 1944 musical romance film, Atlantic City. The film was reissued in 1950 under the name Atlantic City Honeymoon.Watch Dorothy’s performance of Harlem on Parade here.
Literary great James Baldwin on Porgy and Bess: “I like Porgy and Bess…. Just the same, it is a white man’s vision of Negro life. This means that when it should be most concrete and searching it veers off into the melodramatic and the exotic. It seems to me that the author knew more about Bess than he understood and more about Porgy than he could face—than any of us, so far, can face. The idea of a Negro beggar-cripple who yet has enough force in his hands to kill a man and enough force in his body to say nothing of his spirit to possess a woman is surely an arresting one; as is the notion that this woman is, herself, because of her own uncontrollable drives, at the mercy of two whore masters, one of whom is a murderer and both of whom are dope addicts. And Heyward was not inventing all this but describing things that he had seen.
What has always been missing from George Gershwin’s opera is what the situation of Porgy and Bess says about the white world. It is because of this omission that Americans are so proud of the opera. It assuages their guilt about Negroes and it attacks none of their fantasies. Since Catfish Row is clearly such a charming place to live, there is no need for them to trouble their consciences about the fact that the people who live there are still not allowed to move anywhere else. Neither need they probe within their own lives to discover what the Negroes of Catfish Row really mean to them. But I am certainly not the first person to suggest that these Negroes seem to speak to them of a better life— better in the sense of being more honest, more open, and more free: in a word, more sexual. This is cruelest fantasy of all, hard to forgive. It means that Negroes are penalized, and hideously, for what the general guilty imagination makes of them. This fantasy is at the bottom of almost all violence against Negroes. Is it the reason they are not to be mixed in buses, houses, schools, jobs; they are to remain instead in Catfish Row, to have fish fries and make love. It is a fantasy which is tearing the nation to pieces and it is surely time we snapped out of it.”
April 1948 issue of Ebony Magazine.
I’m sure you all know that Dorothy Dandridge’s 91st birthday is this Saturday, November 9. Or at least you should know. So what will you be doing to honor the legacy of Dottie on her born day? I will be hosting a Dorothy Dandridge themed party amongst friends. Also in honor of Dottie’s birthday, freelance journalist @PrincessGabbara will be hosting a twitter chat at noon EST where everyone will be able to discuss all things Dorothy Dandridge. Be sure to use the hashtag #DorothyDandridge to share how Dottie has inspired you or any thoughts and/or questions that you have about regarding this truly legendary woman.
Saturday, November 9 is Dottie’s Day!
After much haggling, I got Life magazine to acknowledge today, the 59th anniversary of Dorothy Dandridge historic moment as the first black woman to grace the cover of Life, on their twitter and tumblr. Much thanks to Any from Life for responding to a comment I made on Instagram. She was probably tired of me blowing up her mentions on twitter. Lol.I will say that the reason that she gave me makes no sense at all to me. “We will. Unfortunately we don’t own this image (speaking of the image I posted of Dorothy on the cover of Life), but will post the cover on social [networks].” I’m so confused because the image is the cover. Unless she was speaking on my other twitter comments I which I said it would be nice if Life put out a commemorative issue next year to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Dottie’s cover.
"My God, it’s Carmen!"