Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Dorothy Dandridge vs. The World - The Hairpin
Janet Maslin on black actress Dorothy Dandridge, who enjoyed great But she fell for Otto Preminger, the film's director, who had initially. Dorothy Dandridge and Peter Lawford. Dorothy Dandridge and husband Harold Nicholas. Dorothy Dandridge and Otto Preminger. Dorothy. mistrusted her and suspected her relationship with Preminger. Preminger originally wanted Dorothy for the role of 'Cindy Lou' in the film Carmen Jones Like Otto, Dorothy matched him in his meticulousness and discipline.
These films were noted not only for showcasing Dandridge as singer and dancer and her acting abilities, but also for featuring a strong emphasis on her physical attributes. She continued to appear occasionally in films and on the stage throughout the rest of the s, and though performing as a band singer in some good company, Count Basie in Hit Parade of and Louis ArmstrongAtlantic City and Pillow to Postother appearances were so-so fare.
When the Motion Picture Production Code tut-tutted about the film's "blunt sexuality",[ citation needed ] Dandridge received considerable attention for wearing what was considered "provocatively revealing" clothing. That same year, she had a supporting role in The Harlem Globetrotters In MayDandridge spectacularly opened at the Mocambo nightclub in West Hollywood after assiduous coaching and decisions on style with pianist Phil Moore. Her acquaintance with Dore Schary resulted in his casting Dandridge as Jane Richards in Bright Road —her first starring role, projecting herself as a "wonderful, emotional actress"—which the trailer was to later promote.
The film, which centered on a teacher's struggles to reach out to a troubled student, marked the first time Dandridge appeared in a film opposite Harry Belafonte.
She continued her performces in nightclubs thereafter and appeared on multiple early television variety shows, including Ed Sullivan 's Toast of the Town. Under consideration, but available to director and writer Otto Preminger to view for suitability was Dandridge's starring role from the previous year, Bright Road. This performance, and the general audience's acquaintance with it, did not find Preminger considering Dandridge for Carmen, feeling her presentation in 'Bright Road' would more suit well for the smaller role of the quiet Cindy Lou.
Dandridge, recalling her experiences of having to dress down to the demure school teacher for the screen tests of 'Bright Road', outrageously worked on and created a look with the aid of Max Factor make-up artists, to obtain the appearance and character of the earthy title role Carmen, and confronted Preminger in his executive office.
With this meeting, and a subsequent viewing of her freer looser appearances in the 'soundies' material,  Preminger gave her the role. Dandridge's performance as the seductive leading actress made her one of Hollywood's first African-American sex symbols and earned her positive reviews. On November 1,Dorothy Dandridge became the first black woman featured on the cover of Life.
Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Dorothy Dandridge vs. The World
As Walter Winchell recalled, her performance was "bewitching" and Variety said her "performance maintains the right hedonistic note throughout". Dandridge was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actressbecoming the first African-American nominated for a leading role.
Although Kelly won the award for her performance in The Country GirlDandridge became an overnight sensation. Zanuckthe studio head, had personally suggested the studio sign Dandridge to a contract. Zanuck had big plans for her, hoping she would evolve into the first African-American screen icon. He purchased the film rights to The Blue Angel and intended to cast her as saloon singer Lola-Lola in an all-black remake of the original film.
She was also scheduled to star as Cigarette in a remake of Under Two Flags.
Dorothy & Otto – Variety
However, her former director and now-lover Otto Premingersuggested she accept only leading roles. As an international star, Dorothy Dandridge rejected the two lesser roles and they were eventually given to Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno.
The stories with questionable veracity most often centered around alleged incidents of casual sex. When the jury and press visited Grauman's Chinese Theatre to determine whether O'Hara could have performed various sexual acts while seated in the balcony, as reported by a magazine published by Hollywood Research, Inc. Alleged by Confidential to have fornicated with a white bandleader in the woods of Lake Tahoe inshe testified that racial segregation had confined her to her hotel during her nightclub engagement in the Nevada resort city.
The judge ordered Hollywood Research to stop publishing questionable stories based on paid tips, and this curtailed invasive tabloid journalism untilwhen Generoso Pope, Jr. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Dandridge portrayed a local Indian shop clerk who has an interracial love affair with a white man, played by John Justin.
They open The Moon is Blue in a few urban markets, and its success convinces three major theater chains to distribute nationwide. But uptight Ohio, Kansas, and Maryland up and ban the film.
Preminger and United Artists realize they had a chance to potentially blow the entire Code out of the water. So far so good, so UA tries the same thing in Kansas, but no luck. But UA says fuck it yet again: They take the case to The Supreme Court, which overturns the Kansas ruling.
No more banning of flirtly seduction films! Preminger was the kind of man who tolerated little in the way of bullshit. He thought that black actors were woefully underused, and wanted to make the most of the tremendous talent he saw on the lot.
Dandridge wanted to prove herself as a serious actor, not a sex-bomb club performer. It fit through the waist, then flared. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail. Cut to montage of russling through her closet, hemming her skirts shorter, putting on black eyeliner. Preminger obviously gave her the part.
She was once again paired with Harry Belafonte, only this time he got to wear a uniform. And the arm cuff! And will you look at her competition: And that red skirt, holy shit: Suddenly, everything was awesome. A big one arrived: But Tuptim was a slave, and after consulting with Preminger, Dandridge refused, certain that more offers would be forthcoming.
The role went to Rita Moreno; the film was a smash. At some point, Dandridge became pregnant, but had an abortion to avoid scandal. The press began linking her a list of white stars: Dandridge was, indeed, dating some, but certainly not all, of these men.
But those men were already married. By this point, Dandridge was fed up. One very pissed off Dandridge testifying against Confidential And still, Dandridge waited for a role. Recall, she was still under contract to Fox — which still wanted to make her a star. The problem, of course, mirrored that of her private life: Dandridge was increasingly desperate.
Belafonte was offered the role of Porgy, refused it on principle, and encouraged Dandridge to do the same. And when Preminger, now quite estranged from Dandridge, stepped in to replace the director, everything went to hell.
Already known for his harsh manner on set, Preminger brought Dandridge to tears on a regular basis. Think of it this way: But then your just-fine, normal boss is replaced by your dick ex-boyfriend, and he shames you in front of your new co-workers constantly.
Dorothy Dandridge, Angel Face: Otto Preminger
That is the shit that Dandridge had to tolerate. And the unraveling begins. Dandridge meets Jack Denison, a true juicebox of a restaurant owner, and falls for his promises. They marry in Juneand he forces her to perform at his small-fry restaurant, effectively driving down her value with every appearance. He starts managing her career, beats her regularly, and loses a significant amount of her money.
The other chunk of her money had been tucked away in what Dandridge thought to be a solid, fool-proof oil investment, but when it proves a massive scam, Dandridge and a dozen other stars lose everything.
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Dandridge begins to drink heavily. She declares bankruptcy and takes piecemeal, embarrassing gigs to pay the bills.