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Marylin Monroe And Dorothy Dandridge

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While Watching Rocky And Bullwinkle on a local station I saw an ad for a play called *Conversations*. It's about the friendship between Marylin Monroe and Dorothy Dandridge. I've never heard of any kind of relationship between these two people. Has anyone out there heard of this play, or what kind of relationship, (if any) these two people had?

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I never even knew they MET, let alone had a friendship. Maybe it's one of those "what if?" type of plays.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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Sepiatone

 

If your curious the play is taking place in the Detroit area. It's showing a something called the Detroit International Institute, which I think is near Wayne State in Midtown Detroit. I don't have the website if I you google "Conversations, Play, Marylin Monroe, Dorthy Dandridge", you might get something.

 

 

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Well, I can fill you in on some loose ends of the story that I happened to come across. It was a fact that Marilyn and Dorothy became friends. This was especially the case, when Dorothy signed on at 20th Century-Fox studios, where Marilyn would make most of the major films of her career. Dorothy was at the time, jumping from one gig to the next, usually doing a singing nightclub act, while continuing on with somewhat of an acting career in films. During the early half of Dorothy’s career, she was trying to break away from her success within the Negro film community and reach towards getting into the major film market of mainstream Hollywood. It was only natural to surmise that for Dorothy it was a considerable, constant struggle against basic prejudices all African Americans faced when seeking a chance at major film production. Her first big break came about the same time it had come for Marilyn in 1953, when Dorothy appeared in the nicely produced, major MGM film of “Bright Road.” This was a film drama concerning the plight of a small-town, country school teacher. Opposite her in the film was singer, also turned as an occasional actor, wonderful Harry Belafonte. They became lifelong friends and would later on make two more major films together. Essentially, Dorothy and Harry would become two of the biggest major African American stars of the 1950’s.

 

 

The friendship that Marilyn had with Dorothy, also included another legendary star that seldom gets mention, Ava Gardner. It was actually Ava who first had a deeply, rooted friendship with Dorothy, due to Ava’s close kit relationship with singer Lena Horne while at MGM. Lena had known Dorothy from the early days of her career, around the nightclub circuit. Lena didn’t hang out much with Ava and Dorothy, preferring to stay low-keyed and out of the public eye. Somewhere along the way, Ava introduced Dorothy to Marilyn. This turned out to be one of the most historic and remarkable friendships in the history of Hollywood gossip. The mainstream press gave little, if any coverage of their camaraderie, most likely due to the racial issues involved at the time. Yet, the trio could be seen showing up together at some of the biggest and most notorious Hollywood festivities. You might say that Ava, Dorothy and Marilyn pioneered this openness between races that for most of the time was hidden or not publicized much.

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn and Dorothy had a few things in common, one of them was this dependency on all sorts of sedatives and barbiturates. Of course, in those days, this was a normal way of life to having easy access to the use of various prescription drugs that today would be considered dangerous to one’s health. Like Marilyn, Dorothy struggled at the studio to acquire decent roles. She fought long and hard to not be regulated to the usual secondary parts of maids and subservient individuals that was so common in those days for African Americans. Some Hollywood insiders believe, Dorothy’s biggest problem came into focus upon having this turbulent love affair with director Otto Preminger. After Preminger cast Dorothy in the highly successful musical “Carmen Jones,” he then saw himself as being the guiding light to her career in motion pictures. As Dorothy and Otto became an open secret throughout Hollywood, Marilyn was about to have her own problems with her doomed and ill fated marriage to baseball great Joe DiMaggio. Not to sort of be left out, Ava’s torrid marriage to Frank Sinatra had also come to its enviable end! So, during this period, the three ladies sought comfort in expressing their emotional difficulties to each other. They drank a lot and along the way probably took a few pills here and there, as they discussed the enigma of being a motion picture star.

 

 

The year 1955, ought to be considered the big turning point for both Marilyn and Dorothy. It was during this period, both ladies rebelled harshly against studio boss Darryl Zanuck, then head of 20th Century-Fox. Since it looked as if both actresses were heading towards bigger stardom, they now wanted a bit of control. Marilyn refused to be cast in what she considered a flimsy musical entitled “Pink Tights.” Dorothy was then offered a supporting role as the salve girl, in the big upcoming musical version of “The King and I.” Dorothy wouldn’t accept what she considered an objectionable role for an African American woman. Both Marilyn and Dorothy looked as if they were now teaming up together against the demands of Zanuck. This seemed very natural for everyone watching this melodrama, since most everybody in town knew they were good friends! Somehow, the press didn’t link Marilyn and Dorothy together over this contractual issue, probably due to the politics involved and all those social issues looming in the shadows. Certainly, if any details of the friendship between the two would have been widely reported, it could have hurt Marilyn’s career, as much as Dorothy’s. For her part, Marilyn must have known she was a financial asset and perhaps Dorothy’s emerging movie stardom also hanged in the balance for her to make a bold move. Marilyn then decided on heading out towards New York City and Dorothy did the same! They both walked out on their contracts. In the process, Marilyn would succeed, while Dorothy was obviously left out to dry. Although Marilyn would be the one to have the clout to win over on Zanuck, she did speak up on behalf of Dorothy. Thus, Marilyn aided Dorothy wherever she could, leading up to Dorothy getting a good role in the film “Island in The Sun,” opposite her old friend, Harry Belafonte.

 

 

Whenever possible, Dorothy and Marilyn tried to keep in touch. By the end of the decade, Ava who had created the celebrated trio was gone. She ended up living in Spain, only now occasionally appearing to make a movie. Meanwhile, Dorothy had to concentrate more on her singing and nightclub act, in order to keep her career going, while at the same time, have to support the care for her disabled daughter, who had been placed into a special institution. Marilyn could relate to this issue fully, since she had her mother being cared for in a mental hospital. This situation pretty much signifies why there was this close and respected friendship between the two stars. When Dorothy was in New York, as much as Hollywood, both ladies hung out together. There were times the two talked about the problems of their careers, as opposed to their personal lives. During those last few yeares they were together, Sammy Davis Jr. played an important part to the friendship, especially since that era of the early 1960’s was the true, hardcore beginning of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Marilyn was making plans to get involved, due in large part to Dorothy and Sammy had become a close friend to Marilyn. Sammy was one of the very few Hollywood inter circle of friends to Marilyn, Joe DiMaggio approved of and would have allowed him to attend Marilyn’s funeral. I’ve never been so sure about Dorothy and whether or not she would have met with Joe D’s approval. I do know she was later seen showing up at Marilyn’s crypt and left some nice flowers.

 

Like Marilyn before her, Dorothy would become emotionally burnt out and lose track of her self-consciousness. Dorothy too didn’t have long to live, when in 1965, she was also found dead at her Hollywood home, due to an overdose of barbiturates. How peculiar this all seemed, stemming from both having died the same way. Yet, Ava would be the one to finally survive, having left behind Hollywood and whatever chaos their might have been to her life and times in Tinsel Town. It was around the time before Dorothy died, she began to write her life story. Five years later, with the help of her sister, Dorothy’s autobiography was published posthumously in 1970. The book entitled, “Everything and Nothing: The Dorothy Dandridge Tragedy,” pretty much summed up what she had been through and there were passages in her book about Marilyn that as of today are the only known, direct information of their friendship that for the most part, went somewhat unnoticed by the fans.

 

 

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Thank you Movie Professor for the info.

 

According to Hotlist this play will be presented Saturday, September 1 at The International Institute. The location is 111 E Kirby, Detroit MI. The author is Robbie Taylor.

 

Somehow I have the feeling this play will not make it to broadway, (but you never know.)

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Thanks for the fascinating details, MovieProfessor !

 

A Google search turned up NO pictures of Marilyn and Dorothy ... but it did reveal this:

 

marilynandella.png

 

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt. It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo [who'd refused to book Fitzgerald because she was black] and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard… After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

 

- Ella Fitzgerald

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So far, in over fifty plus years, no one has been able to come up with a clear cut photo of Dorothy and Marilyn together. There was once, a rare black and white photo floating around, taken at some movie premiere both ladies attended. I remember seeing this photo around 1956. The photo has yet to resurface or be found in order to finally quell those who have questioned the relationship of Marilyn and Dorothy. The problem was that the politics of those times, didn’t permit a woman of color, even if she be famous to have a photo taken at a public place or gathering with a Caucasian movie star! It took sometime for the restrictions to give way. Various big stars had to take a stand in order to change the mindset of those who objected or feared some sort of public backlash over African Americans and whites being seen as close, regular friends and equals!

 

 

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> {quote:title=MovieProfessor wrote:}{quote}The problem was that the politics of those times, didn’t permit a woman of color, even if she be famous to have a photo taken at a public place or gathering with a Caucasian movie star!

I'll bet the papparazzi of the 50s probably assumed they were actually doing Marilyn a FAVOR i.e. "protecting her image" by "killing" any photos of her with Dandridge.

 

As much as I've dreamt of being able to magically turn back the clock and live during Hollywood's "Golden Age," there were some aspects of life back then that are disgustingly unacceptable.

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> {quote:title=ValeskaSuratt wrote:}{quote}

> A Google search turned up NO pictures of Marilyn and Dorothy ... but it did reveal this:

Have a look at the photo I posted below....

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> {quote:title=MovieProfessor wrote:}{quote}

>

> So far, in over fifty plus years, no one has been able to come up with a clear cut photo of Dorothy and Marilyn together.

>

Have a look at the photo I posted below....that looks pretty "clear cut" to me.

 

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I've always thought both ladies were born too early. If they had had their chances in the 80's, 90's or today, they probably would have been able to take advantage of the fact that one could be more open about addiction, therapy. etc and maybe both could've had long and more productive lives.

 

The pic of MM and Ella is great and it doesn't surprise me that Marilyn would have helped Ella. MM always seemed to be much more astute and much smarter than she let on.

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> Good god, people....what do you call this?

Sheesh ... somebody pat UniversalHorror on the head before he wets the carpet ...

 

I know Dandridge had an affair with Preminger ... I wonder if Marilyn did ... ?

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> {quote:title=ValeskaSuratt wrote:}{quote}

> > Good god, people....what do you call this?

> Sheesh ... somebody pat UniversalHorror on the head before he wets the carpet ...

There's no reason you had to be smarmy with your reply...I had every reason for my reaction, since people were saying there was NO picture of the two women around, and I immediately found one.

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Kudos to Valeska and Universal Horror for turning up those pictures, and to Valeska again for digging up that remarkable Ella quote. I've always admired Marilyn more as a person than as an actress, but that story from Ella adds a whole new dimension to Ms. Monroe.

 

And Movie Professor, thanks for that terrific font of information about Marilyn and Dorothy Dandridge. Yogiboo is probably right that both of these remarkable women were born about 10 or 15 years too soon, but then we're always standing on the shoulders of those who came before us.

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{quote:title=OK UniversalHorror . . . }{quote}

 

Well, it could be . . . But, I'm not so sure if the woman to the right is in fact Dorothy . . . So tell me: What is the origin of this photo? Remember one thing . . . I said CLEAR CUT PHOTO. I'd want a date, place and possible verification. My guess is the photo is probably from a privatge collection or used in a biography of Otto or Dorothy? What's the story? ?:|

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AH-HA UniveralHorror!

 

I just found out about that photo! It was presumably taken during the time Marilyn and Otto were making "River of No Return." If it is authentic, then it remains the only widely seen photo of Marilyn and (if it can be clearly proven) Dorothy. Yet, I still can't get any sort of details about the photo's origin.

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> {quote:title=MovieProfessor wrote:}{quote}{quote:title=OK UniversalHorror . . . }{quote}

>

> Well, it could be . . . But, I'm not so sure if the woman to the right is in fact Dorothy . . . So tell me: What is the origin of this photo? Remember one thing . . . I said CLEAR CUT PHOTO. I'd want a date, place and possible verification. My guess is the photo is probably from a privatge collection or used in a biography of Otto or Dorothy? What's the story? ?:|

You mean to the LEFT...Marilyn is on the right.

 

Jeezuz...it was on this page:

 

http://introvertedjerk.tumblr.com/post/29095904034/this-photo-of-dorothy-dandridge-otto-preminger

 

Call in the FBI to investigate for ABSOLUTE and CLEAR CUT facts, for crissakes! :P

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> {quote:title=UniversalHorror wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=ValeskaSuratt wrote:}{quote}

> > > Good god, people....what do you call this?

> > Sheesh ... somebody pat UniversalHorror on the head before he wets the carpet ...

> There's no reason you had to be smarmy with your reply...I had every reason for my reaction, since people were saying there was NO picture of the two women around, and I immediately found one.

Actually, there was a reason: I enjoy sharing movie trivia here for any who choose to enjoy it but am, admittedly, somewhat sensitive to people posting their knowledge in a way that belittes the efforts of others.

 

That's intended merely as explanation -- not justiffication -- for my comment which was rude, and for which I apologize.

 

Thank you for posting the photo. Where did you find it ?

 

 

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> {quote:title=. . . }{quote}You mean to the LEFT...Marilyn is on the right.

> :P

HA . . . Have to laugh at myself on that one! I had a senior moment! Anyway, can't call in the FBI . . . Director J. Edgar, who had all the files destroyed is also dead! ;)

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> {quote:title=ValeskaSuratt wrote:}{quote} Actually, there was a reason: I enjoy sharing movie trivia here for any who choose to enjoy it but am, admittedly, somewhat sensitive to people posting their knowledge in a way that belittes the efforts of others.

>

> That's intended merely as explanation -- not justiffication -- for my comment which was rude, and for which I apologize.

>

> Thank you for posting the photo. Where did you find it ?

1. I did no such thing as far as "belittling" the efforts of others....others said there was NO photo of those two, and I found one...and easily. That's hardly belittling....that's just providing the desired photo. Period. B-)

 

2. Apology accepted. :)

 

3. I gave the link to where I found the photo in my reply below to MovieProfessor.... ?:|

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MovieProfessor,

 

Here's the photo along with three others of Dandridge for comparison:

 

MMDandridge_v1.jpg

 

Here's what's confusing:

 

Marilyn is obviously in her River of No Return hairdo.

 

According to Wikipedia, River of No Return was shot between June and September of 1953 ...

 

But Preminger didn't meet and then cast Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones until April - May of 1954.

 

As Yul Brynner said ... "Izz a puzzlement !"

 

And, finally, here's a shot of Dandridge and Preminger which probably wasn't published in the deep South.

 

Dorothy-Dandridge-and-director-Otto-Prem

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> {quote:title=ValeskaSuratt . . .}{quote}

 

 

 

*Excellent Observation!* Especially with the important dates and time frame that now make the photo, not so much a suspect of authenticity, but in need of clarification as to its origin. I did some research over this photograph and it seems no one has come forward or been able to verify exactly when it was taken and where it came from! The photo has simply popped up on the internet and while it could very well be from someone’s private collection, who happened to be on the set of a movie being made, it doesn’t necessary mean that the woman to the left is clearly Dorothy.

 

 

 

Without some sort of explanation as to how this photo was taken, we can’t really accept it as historical proof to the friendship between Dorothy and Marilyn. The fact that this photo has never been seen or observed until now, with various books written and documentaries made over the years about both stars is rather frustrating. Had the photo been released and seen, say about 40 years ago, it would have most likely been accepted as part of the Dorothy Dandridge legacy.

 

 

 

While I’m not an expert on photography, I do find the picture rather strange looking, as if something were superimposed. With today’s computer technology, a lot of fakery goes on and the clever quality of these various fraudulent methods become difficult to decipher. I am not one to rain on somebody’s parade, but it should be easy enough for the person in possession of the original to come forward and explain how they came to have this photo. I praise your research that for the long run is what finding an item like this is all about! You now have my *clear cut* respect and admiration!

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Weren't we talking about a play?

 

 

Yeah, I know threads are going to go where they are going to go, kind of like actual conversation.

 

I wonder what kind of research the author has done? Has he seen that photo?

 

I'm kind of hoping that man has looked at this thread, (yeah it's a longshot.)

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