INTRODUCING DOROTHY DANDRIDGE (TV)

Summary

This made-for-television movie chronicles the life and career of singer and actress Dorothy Dandridge. The story is told primarily through a series of flashbacks, as an older Dandridge passes a sleepless night talking on the telephone to her close friend Geri Nicholas, reminiscing and organizing old photographs. She remembers the night years ago when her singing and dancing group, the Dandridge Sisters, first performed at the Cotton Club. After receiving a record number of encores, Dandridge met suave performer Harold Nicholas backstage. In spite of the warnings and harsh punishment of her strict chaperone Auntie, Dorothy Dandridge began a whirlwind romance with Nicholas and soon became engaged. Auntie's treatment left a mark on Dandridge that affected her marriage, however, and caused inauspicious beginnings. The marriage continued to be rocky after a child, Lynn, was born, and the two parted when they discovered that Lynn was developmentally disabled.

Dissatisfied with the limited and stereotypical roles available in film, Dandridge paired up with manager Earl Mills, who suggested that she pursue a singing career. After having settled Lynn in private care, Dandridge and Mills began a successful nightclub tour that placed her in the public eye. An important opportunity arose when casting began for an all-Black movie musical, "Carmen Jones." Dandridge aggressively pursued the lead role and in the process began a romance with the film's director, Otto Preminger. At the height of her career, Dandridge was the first African-American woman nominated for a best-actress Academy Award (as Carmen Jones), and she negotiated a highly paid three-film contract. She became disillusioned when she found that even an Oscar nomination did not exempt her from the policies of segregation; nor did it promise her lead roles in mainstream films. In addition to the disappointments in her career, Dandridge began to realize that her relationship with Preminger could never be what she had hoped for.

After Grace Kelly won the Oscar and the romance with Preminger fell apart, Dandridge slipped into a depression. Even her experience performing in the film version of "Porgy and Bess" opposite Sidney Poitier was marred by ill treatment from the film's director, her old flame Preminger. The next years in her life were marked by a disastrous marriage with slick restaurateur Jack Denison, and by increasing use of alcohol and prescription drugs. The film concludes as Dandridge ends her long telephone conversation with Geri Nicholas and falls prey to her dependence on substances. Former manager Earl Mills comes back into her life and attempts to jump start her dying career, but he arrives too late to save Dandridge.

Details

  • NETWORK: HBO
  • DATE: August 21, 1999 Saturday 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:55:26
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:58450
  • GENRE: Docudrama
  • SUBJECT HEADING: African-American actresses
  • SERIES RUN: HBO - TV, 1999
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Robert Katz … Executive Producer
    • Moctesuma Esparza … Executive Producer
    • Joshua D. Maurer … Executive Producer
    • Halle Berry … Executive Producer
    • Vincent Cirrincione … Executive Producer
    • Larry Y. Albucher … Producer
    • Martha Coolidge … Director
    • Shonda Rhimes … Writer
    • Scott Abbott … Writer
    • Earl Mills … Based on the book by
    • Elmer Bernstein … Music by
    • Kim Blank … Choreographer
    • Robin Urdang … Music (Misc. Credits), Music Supervisor
    • Halle Berry … Cast, Dorothy Dandridge
    • Brent Spiner … Cast, Earl Mills
    • Klaus Maria Brandauer … Cast, Otto Preminger
    • Obba Babatunde … Cast, Harold Nicholas
    • Loretta Devine … Cast, Ruby Dandridge
    • Cynda Williams … Cast, Vivian Dandridge
    • LaTanya Richardson … Cast, Auntie
    • Tamara Taylor … Cast, Geri Nicholas
    • William Atherton … Cast, Darryl Zanuck
    • D.B. Sweeney … Cast, Jack Denison
    • Don Gettinger … Cast, the Hotel Clerk
    • Nicholas Hormann … Cast, the Oscar Emcee
    • Sharon Brown … Cast, Etta Jones
    • Darrian C. Ford … Cast, Foyard Nicholas
    • M.J. Sawyer … Cast, the B&W Movie Actress
    • Joanne Baron … Cast, the Doctor
    • Alexis Carrington … Cast, Lynn at 4
    • Margaret Easley … Cast, the Ring-a-ding Girl
    • Clinton Derricks-Carroll … Cast, Phil Moore
    • Kerri Randles … Cast, Marilyn Monroe
    • Jon Mack … Cast, Ava Gardner
    • Ken Michelman … Cast, the "TarzanÕs Peril" Director
    • Chaz Monet … Cast, Lynn at 8
    • Tom Virtue … Cast, the Miami Comic
    • Larry Poindexter … Cast, Joey Young
    • Irene Roseen … Cast, Otto's Secretary
    • Mark Bramhall … Cast, "Carmen Jones" A.D.
    • Andre Carthen … Cast, Harry Belafonte
    • Andrew Hibbard … Cast, the Clapper Boy
    • Guy Torry … Cast, the First Actor
    • Robin Vaughn … Cast, the First Actress
    • Dwain Perry … Cast, the Private
    • Billy Mayo … Cast, the Sergeant
    • Renton Kirk … Cast, the Second Actor
    • Sarah Scott Davis … Cast, the Second Actress
    • Raphael Sbarge … Cast, the Vegas Hotel Manager
    • Robert Phelps … Cast, the Studio Publicist
    • Darrel Wright … Cast, a Macambo dancer
    • Anthony Demarco … Cast, a Macambo dancer
    • Stephen Smith … Cast, a Macambo dancer
    • Benjamin Brown … Cast, Sidney Poitier
    • Brian Hatton … Cast, "Porgy & Bess" A.D.
    • James Krag … Cast, a reporter
    • Lee Allan … Cast, a reporter
    • Clement Franckenstein … Cast, the Judge
    • Aiysha Sinclair … Cast, Lynn at 18
    • Brad Parker … Cast, the Macambo Emcee
    • F. William Parker … Cast, the Coroner
    • Jon Lindstrom … Cast, the Assistant Coroner
    • Mik Scriba … Cast, the Detective
    • Michael Laskin … Cast, the Radio Announcer
    • Wendi Williams … Voice, Dorothy Dandridge vocals