In the spirit of the Oscars, I am counting down the next seven days by honoring some of the strongest women in Classic Film. On and off the screen they all showed beauty, grace, talent and undying resolve. Today I honor Dorothy Dandridge.

Dorothy Dandridge

  • Dorothy was part of the “Wonder Children” later named the Dandridge Sisters. They toured the Southern U.S., performing a song and dance act. They later moved to Hollywood and performed in high-profile nightclubs.
  • Was the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1954 film Carmen Jones.
  • Best known for Bright Road (1953), and Carmen Jones (1954)
  • Nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Laurel Award.


Did you know? When Dandridge first auditioned for the role of Carmen Jones, she was seen as too elegant and ladylike. Determined to be successful, Dandridge put on the southern accent, tight clothes, heavy makeup and high hair – and got the part immediately.

Why I like her: She was a trailblazer – being the first African-American on the Time Cover – and a fierce fighter, suing a magazine for printing a scandalous story in 1957.

Favorite Quote

I am profoundly fond of … a theme which showed that beneath any color skin, people were simply people. I had a feeling that themes like this might do more real good than the more hard-hitting protest pictures. I wanted any white girl in the audience to look at me performing in this film and be able to say to herself, ‘Why, this schoolteacher could be me.’        -Dandridge on Bright Road

Want to read about the other women I feature in my countdown to the Oscars? Find them here:

Judy Garland:

Marilyn Monroe: 

Joan Crawford:

Olivia De Havilland: