Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Let's Talk: Dorothy Dandridge & Marilyn Monroe (Part Two)

Last week, I left you all with some questions...

Why do people like Marilyn Monroe more than they like Dorothy Dandridge? Why is she remembered more?

Why do Black girls idolize Marilyn Monroe, but not Dorothy Dandridge?

It's quite simple and returns to the conclusion that was made in the beginning of the previous post--a commentator on that same post also brought up the some good points.

Dorothy Dandridge was a woman of color--a Black woman, therefore it was very unlikely for her to be awarded the same opportunities in Hollywood that Marilyn got--even if she was the better actress and singer. Plus, the few films Dorothy had leading or supporting roles in (or minor and bit roles for that matter) are a bit hard to find due to them being banned and/or simply forgotten, and because of thatpeople outside of her fanbase or the Black Cinema fanbase haven't even heard of her films, let alone seen them. 

To be quite honest with you, I'm all the way in her fanbase and even I have only seen Carmen Jones, Island in the Sun, & Tamango. If the fans have a hard time finding her movies (legally especially), then that says enough about how much access the general public has. 

Things are getting better though if you check out Amazon and Ebay.

Tamango, the 1958 film made in France and Italy that was banned in the French colonies in Africa and in the United States until 1962 (with the exception of theatrical release in New York City). 

Young Black girls and young Black women (not all, but too many of them) don't know about her because no one is telling them about her. No one is putting her face on pocketbooks and T-shirts, or making big posters of her. No one is releasing special edition DVDs of her movies. We can't blame or shame these young ladies and frankly, we the Dottie fans and/or Black Cinema fans can't blame ourselves either. Hollywood simply was not ready for her or her movies and as a result, did (and still do) very little to preserve her legacy and save her films.

 However, we can change this--not even just for Black women and girls, but for everyone. Everyone needs to know and praise this woman. 

Now, let's get another thing straight--we shouldn't encourage young people to hate or dislike Marilyn Monroe in order to love Dorothy Dandridge. Calling Marilyn Monroe names and attacking her character is not the way. Especially when the thing people accuse Marilyn of being is the same thing men have been getting away with being for centuries; and women today are probably just as bad or worse. Marilyn wasn't any less human than anyone else (and neither are the aforementioned people) and deserves respect, no matter what good or "bad" happened below her waist. 

Back to subject at hand:

We shouldn't pit Dottie & Marilyn against one another because when you really think about it--they really were so much alike. They were both women looking for love and protection; women who were triumphant and tragic, misused and abused; they both fought to push through struggles and hardships until they eventually passed away. They even died the same way and did so about three years apart (although the jury is still out on exactly how Marilyn overdosed). 

Heck, both of their middle names were "Jean"! How much more similar can you be? 

But the reason above all reasons to not pit these women against each other is the fact that they were actually very close friends. I think that reason alone rises above all other reasons. 

The comparisons between these two shouldn't be negative, but because they shared similar experiences and were both talented women, the comparisons should be positive and filled with love and admiration for them both. Then that love and admiration should be divided and shared equally between them and their legacies.

Not only do they both deserve that love, but as two women who were desperate for it in their lives--shouldn't that be the least we give to them in death?


This photo of Dorothy Dandridge, Otto Preminger, and Marilyn Monroe recently surfaced on the internet. It is currently the only photo of them together known to exist.
Photo Source: DandridgeDaily

Also check out these two links:

Thank you for reading. 




  1. As always, a lovely written article. Hopefully the interest this and part 1 pulled will spill over into the other postings and those who view remain interested to see what comes.

    1. Thank you sir--and I was thinking that as well!

  2. Thanks for your lovely article on Marilyn Monroe and Dorothy Dandridge. I'm so glad you mentioned that they were really good friends, in a time when such friendships were discouraged. I love both of them but as you say it is hard to find DD's films. I am surprised that DD isn't as well known among young black Americans, she is iconic. I don't care who MM slept with, I was just heartened to read in her letters that she supported Civil Rights as I am wary of white stars due to hearing how racist some of them are/were. It really is a sign of the times that young people will hate one 'star' to like another, it happens all the time and is really disturbing. I don't think I made any sense but I just wanted to say I really like your post and Amari Sali's reply and I will have a good look through your blog.

    1. You made perfect sense!!! I appreciate your comment and thoughts. Thank you so much!

  3. Thank you for acknowledging my girls. I am a die hard fan of both. I loved when Ms. Berry played Ms. Dandridge in introducing Dorothy Dandridge. She did an exceptional job at portraying an exquisite actress. All three of the gorgeous women are misunderstood and created for greatness.

    1. Thank you for checking out the post! I'm a big of Dorothy and Marilyn as well. I was literally "introduced" to Dorothy through Halle's portrayal. I've got a post honoring the two-year anniversary of this post scheduled for July 31st. I talk about my changed thoughts over the past two years and the thoughts that have remained the same.

  4. I was literally asking myself this question the other day and I'm starting a personal project in relation to it, which is how I found your post. I knew about DD because I was named after her character in Carmen Jones but she deserves so much more love. This is a great post and I'm terribly happy to find this site.

  5. Hattie McDaniels was the first African American to be nominated and receive an Academy Award in 1939. Dorothy Dandridge was nominated in 1954.

  6. i love, both of them lots of class i bet both of them in heaven have aesome time sleep on beauiful wmen we all love, but god love you more

  7. OMG I agree! In fact, they were friends..kinda. There is no need to pit them against each other. In my opinion, they both had the same problems out of life! To be honest..Dorothy was more talented than Marilyn, as far as acting. Marilyn, however, was more dramatic in her sexiness. That can't be disputed!! But both of them are lovely ladies!!! Yes, Marilyn had better chances than Dorothy. Dorothy, however, had a booming career on the nightclub circuit, which to me, is more admirable because she built up her fan base the traditional way.


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