Tags: Hollywood | dorothy dandrige | supporting roles

Dorothy Dandridge as Supporting Roles: 3 Times Star Shined Without Being Lead Actress

By    |   Wednesday, 13 May 2015 01:41 PM

Dorothy Dandridge had a brief but successful Hollywood career. At the urging of her mother, she began an acting and musical career at a very young age.

At the height of her career, racial disharmony was running rampant across the country, and being a minority was an impediment to being placed in starring roles. Despite the circumstances of her time, Dandridge's career thrived as both a lead and supporting actress.

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Here are three examples of how Dandridge shined without having to be the film's lead:

1. "Tarzan's Peril" (1951)

Dandridge was hesitant to take this part, where she played a jungle queen, as she believed it played into racial stereotypes of the 1950s. In the film Dandridge plays the supporting role to Lex Barker's Tarzan, who is trying to catch gunrunners in the jungle. This was the third of five "Tarzan" films to feature Barker as the star. The film was originally shot in color but more than half was ruined on location so it had to be converted to black and white.

2. "The Decks Ran Red" (1958)


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This sea-going suspense drama features a group of dishonest seamen who attempt a mutiny on their ship. Dandridge plays Mahia in the film second to stars James Mason and Broderick Crawford.

"She was extremely professional. I never worked with any star that I liked better or was more competent," the director recalled. "Stone's admiration was obvious from the way he showcased Dandridge from scene to scene, starting with her memorable entrance aboard the freighter where her beauty dazzles the transfixed sailors," wrote Jay Steinberg of Turner Classic Movies.

3. Island in the Sun (1957)


This film is considered a dramatic adaptation of the Alec Waugh's novel depicting a story of Caribbean lives torn asunder by passion and racism. Dandridge plays the role of Margot Seaton, who becomes romantically involved with the key political players of the film.

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Dorothy Dandridge had a brief but successful Hollywood career. At the urging of her mother, she began an acting and musical career at a very young age.
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