Cleveland's Black History: Dorothy Dandridge

Oscar nominated hollywood actresss

CLEVELAND - Entertainer and actress Dorothy Dandridge was born in Cleveland in 1923. She was influenced by her mother, Ruby, who was a screen and radio actress. Dorothy got the showbiz "bug" at the age of five when she sang with her mother and sister, Vivian. She would also perform acrobatic ballet at Cleveland schools and churches with her sisters. They were known as the Wonder Children.

When Dorothy was nine years old, the family moved to Los Angeles. She dropped out of high school and formed a trio with her sister and a friend named Etta Jones. In 1940 she opened at the Cotton Club in New York City where she met dancer Harold Nicholas. They were united in holy matrimony in 1941 and had a daughter named Harolyn. Dorothy and Harold divorced in 1951.

After having success on the supper-show circuit, she starred opposite Harry Belafonte in Carmen Jones, a black Broadway musical which appeared in Cleveland at the Palace in 1954. Dandridge costarred with Sidney Poitier in Porgy and Bess in 1959. In that same year she married Jack Dennison, a Las Vegas nightclub owner. They divorced in 1962.

The following year Dandridge had to file for bankruptcy with debts over $100,000.

Two years later, Dorothy Dandridge collapsed in her West Hollywood Apartment from a complication resulting from a fractured foot. Dandridge died in 1965.

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