American actress Dorothy Dandridge was born on November 9, 1923 in Cleveland, Ohio. She began singing and dancing for audiences at the age of five. When Dandridge was nine years old, her family moved to Los Angeles, California.
Dandridge pursued an acting career. She first appeared in a motion picture in 1937 in A Day at the Races. She had difficulty finding work in the motion picture industry and typically played stereotypical African American roles.
Unhappy with the limited acting opportunities in Hollywood, Dandridge began a musical career. She performed at the Cotton Club in New York City and in many other clubs across the United States. Dandridge, her sister, and a friend formed their own group, and performed with many of the popular Big Bands of the era.
While Dandridge accepted additional movie roles during the 1940s, she did not focus her attention on acting until the 1950s. Among her memorable appearances were starring roles in Porgy and Bess, Island in the Sun, and Carmen Jones. For her performance in Carmen Jones, Dandridge received an Academy Award nomination for best actress. She was the first African American woman to receive this nomination.
Dorothy Dandridge became heavily dependent on alcohol in the 1960's. She apparently overdosed on an anti-depressant on September 8, 1965 and died from the overdose.