I walked into a Half Price Bookstore one afternoon and asked one of the employees if he had any books on the actress and singer Dorothy Dandridge. He looked at me with the most confused expression on his face, as if I had just asked him what the capital of Mars was. My heart dropped.
Truthfully, I couldn’t blame the worker, it wasn’t his fault he had no idea who I was talking about. I’ve often gotten similar responses from people of all races.
I then asked the same employee: “Do you have any books on Marilyn Monroe?” The response was immediate: “Yeah, we have a ton of those! They’re right over here…”
The very sad truth is that people in this day and age often don’t know who this beautiful, talented actress was. A lot of the reason why many people don’t know about her is because she was an actress prominently during the 50s and 60s, when the only true color that was allowed front in center on screens was bright lipstick on fair skin. You didn’t see many black actors/actresses in starring roles in movies unless the role was as a mammy, a maid, or a slave. Sure, if someone put on Carmen Jones (the movie role Dorothy is perhaps best known for), they might recognize her, though she was so much more than that role. It is my hope that this book list, though short, will invite the world to get to know Dorothy for what she deserves to be known as: a strong, flawed, talented, determined woman who was truly ahead of her time.
1. Dorothy Dandridge by Donald Bogle
Donald Bogle’s iconic biography covers everything there is to know about the late actress from her days as a young performer alongside her sister,Vivian, to her untimely death at the young age of 42.
2. Everything and Nothing: The Dorothy Dandridge Tragedy by Earl Conrad
Conrad’s biography includes more of the detailed aspects of the starlet’s life, though spends more time chronicling her emotional and mental struggles among a business that wasn’t taking her talent as a true actress seriously.
3. Dorothy Dandridge by DeAnn Herringshaw
Perfect for the ‘beginner’ Dorothy fan, Herringshaw’s book includes basic facts and famous photos of the star all throughout her entire career spanning 32 years.
4. Dorothy Dandridge: An Intimate Biography by Earl Mills
One of the very first, if not the very first, biography written on Dorothy, Dorothy Dandridge: An Intimate Biography similarly shares information about the performer’s too short life, though also includes interviews with family, friends, and other personal facts that may not have been known, at the time, to the public.
You’re unforgettable, Dorothy! Thank you for being one of the most phenomenal women of our time. And thank you for helping to pave the way. ♥
Featured image via Tatyana