Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Dorothy Dandridge vs. The World

Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Dorothy Dandridge vs. The World By Anne Helen Petersen | June 20, 2012

Dorothy Dandridge was a fighter.  Growing up in The Depression and making her way through Hollywood in the ‘40s, she encountered resistance — to her skin color, to her refusal to play demeaning roles — at every turn. She was assailed in the press for dating white men, and blamed herself for her husband’s philandering and her daughter’s brain damage.  Nearly every societal convention was against her. And yet she managed to make a handful of gorgeous, invigorating films — films that offer a glimpse at the superstar she would have become if the studios knew what to do with with a beautiful black woman.

Her beauty was indeed phenomenal. She was called “the black Marilyn Monroe” and had flawless, radiant skin the black press referred to as “honey” and “cafe au lait.” And there was the certain way she took ownership of a room, with a reverberating, confident laugh and fierce, dazzling eyes. But being a black actor in the 1950s meant playing savages, slaves, and mamies — debasing roles that Dandridge refused on principle. In the films where she did get to play a a non-servant, non-exotic, non-savage, she was not allowed to do more than kiss, as the idea of a black woman in love was altogether too dangerous for the screen. “If I were white,” Dandridge explained, “I would capture the world.”

Read Complete Article At:

Posted on June 25, 2012 and filed under blog, activism.