With “Vintage Black Glamour,” author Nichelle Gainer weaves a story of civil rights, celebrity, and everyday beauty
“Vintage Black Glamour is a bit like a high-minded celebrity Instagram feed that challenges and adds to American pop culture iconography… Gainer’s collection of images isn’t your grade-school Black History Month bulletin board. “Vintage Black Glamour” reminds you that these people had friends and confidants and lovers and charming idiosyncrasies, and that’s what Gainer wants you to see: humanity. “Every month is Black History Month on ‘Vintage Black Glamour,’” she said.” Many thanks to Soraya Nadia McDonald for this fantastic article on VBG in today’s Washington Post! I think she did a good job of explaining what I am doing with Vintage Black Glamour.
People tend to say the same two things about Dorothy Dandridge (“She was so beautiful!” “Her life was so tragic!”) Well, she was definitely beautiful (by most counts on the inside and out) and she did endure tough challenges in her life, but she was also a relentless hard worker. When she was not rehearsing for one of her nightclub performances, she was studying acting and dance and constantly working to create more opportunities for herself in Hollywood. At one point in the 1950s, she teamed up with Nat “King” Cole to pitch a television series where they would play a married couple (“small time” entertainers trying to catch a break in show business). It is our loss that they were turned down all over town (can you imagine watching clips of that today?!) In this photo, Ms. Dandridge is rehearsing with the great composer, arranger and vocal coach Phil Moore in March 1951. Mr. Moore also coached, arranged and/or wrote songs for Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Pearl Bailey, Ava Gardner, Diahann Carroll, Johnny Mathis and The Supremes.
Dorothy Dandridge presenting the Oscar for Film Editing for “On the Waterfront” at the 27th Academy Awards at New York’s Century Theater on March 30, 1955. She was nominated for Best Actress that year for her role in “Carmen Jones”.
Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge photographed by Charles Williams in an offstage moment from “Carmen Jones”. A very similar shot from this session appeared in the September 30, 1954 issue of Jet magazine. H/T to African Heritage City for sharing this iconic photo.
One of my favorite Dorothy pics. Did you know that she and Nat “King” Cole pitched ideas to networks about doing a television sitcom together? They had a few angles, including one where they played a “small-time pair of married performers” who went through all kinds of (’50s sitcom-ish) scenarios as they climbed the ladder to success. They were turned down all over town. Quelle surprise!