Dorothy Jean Dandridge
November 9, 1922–September 8, 1965
Dorothy Jean Dandridge was an American actress and popular singer. Dandridge was the first African American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.Forced to sell her Hollywood home and to place her daughter in a state mental institution in Camarillo, California, Dandridge moved into a small apartment on Fountain Avenue in West Hollywood, California. Alone and without any acting roles or singing engagements on the horizon, Dandridge suffered a nervous breakdown.
On September 8, 1965, Dandridge spoke by telephone with friend Gerry Branton. Dandridge was scheduled to fly to New York the next day to prepare for her nightclub engagement at Basin Street East. Several hours after her conversation with Branton ended, Dandridge was found dead by her manager, Earl Mills. Two months later a Los Angeles pathology institute determined the cause to be an accidental overdose of Imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant. She was 42 years old.
On September 12, 1965, a private funeral service was held for Dandridge at the Little Chapel of the Flowers; then she was cremated and her ashes were entombed in the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Introducing Dorothy: At a time when there were few African-American faces on the big screen (and most of them playing bit parts as servants), Dorothy Dandridge accomplished in the film industry what Jackie Robinson did in baseball. For her work in the 1954 movie ``Carmen Jones,'' a derivation of the opera by Georges Bizet, she earned a best-actress Oscar nomination. But she came to a sad end. After making some unfortunate choices in men and investments, a penniless Dandridge committed suicide in 1965 at age 42, overdosing on prescription barbiturates in her West Hollywood apartment. The complex, El Palacio Apartments, at the northeast corner of La Cienega Boulevard and Fountain Avenue, is an enchanting place that screams early Hollywood - all Spanish arches and lush greenery. Amid such beauty, it's difficult to imagine Dandridge's despair within, which makes it an appropriate symbol for her life.