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Academy Museum Presents DOROTHY DANDDRIGE AND RUBY DEE: A SHARED CENTENNIAL, November 3-25

Presented in conjunction with Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971on view through April 9, 2023.  

Academy Museum presents DOROTHY DANDDRIGE AND Ruby Dee: A SHARED CENTENNIAL, November 3-25. Presented in conjunction with Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898-1971 on view through April 9, 2023.

Born just two weeks apart in Cleveland, Ohio, Black American actors Dorothy Dandridge (1922-1965) and Ruby Dee (1922-2014) each started their performance careers on the stage in acts by, for, and about Black folks. Dandridge performed with her sister Vivian on the Chitlin' Circuit throughout the South before age 10, settling into regular schooling when her mother moved the family to Hollywood in 1930. Dee joined the American Negro Theatre as an apprentice in 1941 while studying for her undergraduate degree at Hunter College in New York City. Each broke into cinema-Dandridge in 1935, Dee in 1946-in small roles, race films and all-Black cast productions, working steadily and rising to household name status by the late 1950s.

Over careers spanning decades-three for Dandridge and seven for Dee-each performer appeared in over three dozen films and was nominated for an Academy Award. Dandridge, given her earlier start, can claim far more "firsts," as the first Black woman to grace the cover of Life magazine in 1954 and the first Black woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award, for Carmen Jones that same year. Dandridge constantly fought to defend her offscreen image, which tabloids mercilessly targeted throughout her career which was cut short in 1965 when she died under mysterious circumstances. Dee's career achievements-which include an Oscar nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role for American Gangster (2007) when Dee was in her mid-80s-expand beyond Hollywood. She also made her mark- with her husband, filmmaker, actor, and frequent co-star Ossie Davis-as a Civil Rights activist; the couple were named together to the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame in 1989.

By exploring the careers of Dee and Dandridge, we hope to paint a portrait of the opportunities for Black women actors in "classic" Hollywood. Born in the second year of the second decade of the 20th century, both women experienced the advantages and frustrations of incremental civil rights advancements for Black Americans in their lives and careers, and charted pioneering paths that have cemented their status as icons.

See the Schedule here: https://www.academymuseum.org/en/programs/series/dorothy-dandridge-and-ruby-dee-a-shared-centennial.



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