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Dorothy Dandridge Facts

Dorothy Dandridge: A Trailblazer and Iconic Singer

Dorothy Dandridge was a multi-talented performer who was known for her breathtaking beauty and exquisite voice. Her artistry paved the way for African American actresses and performers in Hollywood, making her a true trailblazer in the entertainment industry. Despite facing setbacks and adversity throughout her life, Dorothy Dandridge managed to leave an indelible mark on the world of music and film. Here are some interesting facts to know about this legendary singer.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Dorothy Dandridge was born on November 9, 1922, in Cleveland, Ohio. She grew up in a talented family with her mother, Ruby Dandridge, and sister, Vivian Dandridge. Her mother was an actress and singer, and her father, Cyril Dandridge, was a cabinetmaker. Despite her difficult upbringing, Dorothy was driven by her passion for the arts, and she made her debut onstage at age three. Dorothy and her sister later became part of an all-girl act called The Wonder Children that toured the South.

Rise to Fame

Dorothy Dandridge started her acting career in 1935 when she was cast in the film “Teacher’s Beau.” However, her big break came in 1954 when she starred in the film “Carmen Jones,” alongside Harry Belafonte. She received critical acclaim for her performance, making history as the first African American woman to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Despite her success, she struggled to find roles that weren’t stereotypical or offensive. Nevertheless, she continued to work tirelessly to break down barriers for African American performers.

Personal Life

Dorothy Dandridge had a difficult personal life, marked by several relationships that ended in heartbreak. She married her first husband, Harold Nicholas, in 1942, and they had a daughter named Harolyn. However, the marriage was plagued by infidelity, and they divorced in 1951. Her second marriage to Jack Denison was also tumultuous and ended in divorce in 1959. Dorothy also had a long-standing affair with the famous director Otto Preminger, who cast her in two of her most iconic roles.

Career Achievements

Dorothy Dandridge was an accomplished performer who received numerous accolades for her work. She was the first African American woman to perform at the famous Las Vegas Sands Hotel and Casino, where she shared the stage with some of the biggest names in entertainment, including Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. She also recorded several albums, including “Smooth Operator” and “Island in the Sun,” which showcased her stunning voice and captivating style. Some of her most famous songs include “I’ve Got a Crush on You” and “Smooth Operator.”


Dorothy Dandridge’s legacy continues to inspire countless performers and artists today. Her groundbreaking work paved the way for African American actresses and singers and opened up new opportunities for performers of color. Despite facing racism and discrimination throughout her career, she persisted in her artistry, leaving behind a body of work that continues to be celebrated today.

Height and Net Worth

Dorothy Dandridge was 5 feet 5 inches tall (165 cm) and had a net worth of approximately $30,000 at the time of her death in 1965. However, her contributions to the entertainment industry have continued to grow in value, making her a legendary figure in Hollywood history.


Dorothy Dandridge was a true trailblazer who left an indelible mark on the world of music and film. Her legendary career and enduring legacy continue to inspire performers and artists today, making her a timeless icon of African American culture and history. Despite facing countless challenges throughout her life, she never gave up on her passion for the arts, leaving behind a body of work that continues to inspire and captivate audiences around the world.

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