With the start of the Great Depression, work dried up, as it did for many of the Chitlin' circuit performers. Ruby Dandridge moved to Hollywood, where she found steady work playing domestics in small parts on radio and film. "The Wonder Kids" were renamed "The Dandridge Sisters" and booked into such venues as the Cotton Club and The Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. Dandridge's first on-screen appearance was a bit part in a 1935 Our Gang short. In 1937 she appeared in the Marx Brothers feature A Day at the Races.
In 1940, Dandridge played a murderer in the race film Four Shall Die. All of her early parts were stereotypical African-American roles, but her singing ability and presence brought her popularity in nightclubs around the country. During this period, she starred in several "soundies", film clips designed to be displayed on juke boxes, including "Paper Doll" by the Mills Brothers, "Cow Cow Boogie", "Jig in the Jungle", "Mr. & Mrs. Carpenter's Rent Party.
Carmen Jones grossed $60,000 during the first week and $47,000 in the second upon release in 1955. The film received favorable reviews, and Dandridge was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, becoming only the third African American to receive a nomination in any Academy Award category (after Hattie McDaniel and Ethel Waters). Grace Kelly won for her performance in The Country Girl. At the ceremony, Dandridge presented the Academy Award for Film Editing to Gene Milford for On the Waterfront.
Dandridge married Jack Denison on June 22, 1959, although amid allegations of domestic abuse and financial setbacks, the pair was divorced. At this time, Dandridge discovered that the people who were handling her finances had swindled her out of $150,000, and that she was $139,000 in debt for back taxes. Forced to sell her Hollywood home and to place her daughter in a state mental institution in Camarillo, California, Dandridge moved into a small apartment at 8495 Fountain Avenue in West Hollywood, California. Alone and without any acting roles or singing engagements on the horizon, Dandridge suffered a nervous breakdown. Shortly thereafter, Earl Mills started arranging her comeback.
On September 12, 1965, a private funeral service was held for Dandridge at the Little Chapel of the Flowers; then she was cremated and her ashes were entombed in the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.
|1935||The Big Broadcast of 1936||as member of the Dandridge Sisters|
|1936||Easy to Take||as member of The Dandridge Sisters||uncredited|
|1937||It Can't Last Forever||Dandridge Sisters Act||uncredited|
|A Day at the Races||Performer in the 'All God's Children Got Rhythm' number||uncredited|
|1938||Going Places||Member of Singing/Dancing Trio at Party||uncredited|
|Snow Gets in Your Eyes||member of the Dandridge Sisters Vocal Trio||uncredited|
|1940||Irene||member of the Dandridge Sisters||uncredited|
|Four Shall Die||Helen Fielding|
|Sun Valley Serenade||Specialty act|
|Lady from Louisiana||Felice||aka Lady from New Orleans|
|1942||Lucky Jordan||Hollyhock school maid||uncredited|
|Night in New Orleans||Sal, Shadrach's girl||uncredited|
|The Night Before the Divorce||Maid||uncredited|
|Ride 'Em Cowboy||Congoroo||uncredited|
|Drums of the Congo||Princess Malimi|
|1943||Hit Parade of 1943||Count Basie Band Singer||aka Change of Heart (USA: reissue title)|
|Happy Go Lucky||Chorine||uncredited|
|1944||Since You Went Away||Black Officer's wife in train station||uncredited|
|Atlantic City (1944)||Singer||aka Atlantic City Honeymoon (USA: reissue title)|
|1947||Ebony Parade||as Dorothy Daindridge|
|1951||The Harlem Globetrotters||Ann Carpenter|
|Tarzan's Peril||Melmendi, Queen of the Ashuba|
|1953||Bright Road||Jane Richards|
|1954||Carmen Jones||Carmen Jones||Academy Award nomination|
BAFTA Award nomination
|1957||Island in the Sun||Margot Seaton|
|The Happy Road||aka La Route joyeuse (France)|
|1958||The Decks Ran Red||Mahia||aka La Rivolta dell'esperanza (Italy)|
|Tamango||Aiché, Reiker's mistress|
|1959||Porgy and Bess||Bess||Golden Globe nomination|
|1960||Moment of Danger||Gianna|
|1961||The Murder Men||Norma Sherman||archive footage|
|1945||Pillow to Post||Herself - vocalist||uncredited|
|1951-1953||The Colgate Comedy Hour||Herself - vocalist|
|1952||Songs for Sale||Herself||Episode dated 13 June 1952|
|1952-1961||Toast of the Town||Herself - vocalist||7 episodes, aka The Ed Sullivan Show|
|1953||Remains to Be Seen||Herself|
|1954||Light's Diamond Jubilee||Herself|
|The George Jessel Show||Herself||Episode #1.25|
|1956||Ford Star Jubilee||vocalist||You're the Top|
|1962||Cain's Hundred||Norma Sherman||Blues for a Junkman|
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