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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Dorothy Dandridge is TCM Star of the Month September 2020

Dorothy Dandridge, the first Black actress to earn an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actress for her role as Carmen Jones, graces TCM as September's Star of the Month.

Dandridge's story is an amazaing one. It's the the stuff that dreams are made of. And tragedies. She had a talent that was virtually boundless. She rose to the top as a singer, actress, dancer, and icon. Nothing could hold her back - that is except the color of her skin. Hollywood celebrated her tremendous talent as far as its prejudices would allow. And that's what ultimately destroyed her spirit, and led to her untimely death by accidental overdose at the relatively young age of just forty-two. Hers was a temultous life, which makes it all the more impressive that she was able to have the career that she did, and leave such a deep mark upon the industry that broke her. She herself famously said, "If I were white, I could capture the world."

That quote places a bit of a sting on Dandridge being selected as Star of the Month in September 2020. This this because she is one of only a very few African-Americans whom Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has so honored. Sidney Poitier was the first in July 2002 after many other white actors had been so honored for the first eight plus years of the stations existence, and some multiple times. I haven't been able to find confirmation on any other Black Actors who have shared the specific tribute of being Star of the Month, although several have been included in the Summer Under the Stars day long salutes held annually during the month of August. And most recently, TCM has added an annual celebration of Black History month with a focus on the work of Black Artist in film. The best that I can say about this is, "better late than never".

Dandridge's most known work is the title role in the 1954 production of Carmen for which she was Oscar nominated for Best Actress. This monumental achievement is an award in itself, particulalry since she was up against some tough competition. Along with the winner, Grace Kelly, the other nominees were Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, and Jane Wyman. Talk about great company. Five years later should would create another stunning performance as Bess in Porgy and Bess. Of the thirty-eight film appearances on her officail IMDb listing, only eighteen are for roles for which she actually received credit in a feature film. No doubt each of these films will be included in the month's scheduling.

If you don't already know the work of the exceptional talent known as Dorothy Dandridge, then you have to take advantage of this opportunity and see for yourself why this powerhouse of a personality broke bariers and set examples for generations of Black Women.

To hear Janet Jackson speak of Dandridge's life and career just click on the image above. To see Dandridge's legacy, just set the recording device of your choice.


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