Hollywood Siren of the Day- Dorothy Dandridge. Whenever I’m lost for something to do, or I’m having that quiet moment with an iced tea on a sunny afternoon, I will venture into my old movie collection. One of my favourites with a strong, classic personality that I admire, is Carmen. The spunky actress had so much allure and power that could lure a man into destruction, and eventually to her own tragic destiny. This is a story to behold, a story of lust and fatal attraction. The actress who plays this role caught my attention when I watched a movie about her life.
Halle Berry, who plays her, was the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Oscar. Her road to super stardom could not be more sparkling and full of guarantee. Dorothy Dandridge was born in 1922, to Ruby Dandridge, an aspiring actress, and Cyril Dandridge, a cupboard maker and minister. After her mum and dad separated, Ruby formed an act for Dorothy and her other child, under the name of ‘The Wonder Children’. This life of entertainment and dreams led to an infancy of non-stop moving and non-existent schooling.
Growing up in the depression era, Dorothy and her family suffered great hardship like a lot of other Americans. Ruby moved the family to Hollywood and managed to find a steady income, playing bit-part roles as servants in movies. ‘The Wonder Children’ were renamed ‘The Dandridge Sisters’ and they played in famous venues like ‘The Cotton Club’. I watched the movie named after this famed venue, and was instantly fascinated by the place. Filled with black musicians and dancers, the rich and famous attended this decadent joint to experience some of the jazz magic.
Dorothy played lots of bit-part roles as exotic, beautiful ladies in Hollywood movies. She landed her first small, but important role with Lex Barker and Virginia Huston as Tarzan and Jane. Although her role was small, it was significant enough for her to be noticed.
Her significant point that landed her in the spotlights, was the picture pertaining to Carmen. Played by an almost all black cast, unheard of at the time, she supplied a striking and top of the range performance. It’s an ode to a bygone lavish age, where wonderful personal grooming was needed of every. Gentlemen wearing suits and with slicked-back hair, women donning tailored dresses with ease, everyone looked immaculate.
I especially love the way that Carmen’s flamenco provoked, red skirt is employed as a symbol. Her attitude blended with her red skirt, is inviting and attracting, yet issues danger signs at the exact same time. Her look can easily be mimicked with a bit of imagination, without dipping into the vintage drawers. She wore an easy, jersey cropped top and overlay wrap, red skirt. Teamed with very little kitten heels or black court shoes, you might be the symbol for men to die for as well.
Dorothy’s career was certainly short lived, with prejudice and mismanagement of the Hollywood system, broken dreams and promises made by untrustworthy men around her. She will always be a tragic, flaming siren in my heart.