Dorothy Dandridge was the first African-American nominated for an Oscar for best actress. We remember Dandridge’s remarkable life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died on this day in history.
Dorothy Dandridge was the first African-American nominated for an Oscar for best actress. She also picked up a Golden Globe nomination later in her career. She got her start performing with her sister Vivian during the 1920s, touring as the Wonder Children on the “Chitlin’ Circuit.” She would go on to sing in venerable venues like the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater in New York and work steadily in radio and film in bit parts. After years of small and forgettable parts, Dandridge’s breakthrough performance came in 1953’s all-black adaptation of the opera “Carmen,” now titled “Carmen Jones.” The film’s success led to a deal with 20th Century Fox and a romantic relationship with director Otto Preminger. Dandridge was one of only two actresses to testify against Hollywood Research Inc., the era’s main publisher of celebrity tabloids and ultimately proved the publisher had fabricated at least one story. We remember Dandridge’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2016: Prince Buster, Jamaican pioneer of ska music, dies at 78.
2015: Joaquin Andujar, Dominican Major League Baseball pitcher who was a four-time All-Star, dies at 62.
2014: S. Truett Cathy, U.S. businessman who founded Chick-fil-A, dies at 93.
Cathy opened his first postwar diner in an Atlanta suburb in 1946 and by 1967 he had founded and opened his first Chick-fil-A Inc. restaurant in Atlanta. Over ensuing decades, the chain’s boneless chicken sandwich he is credited with inventing would propel Chick-fil-A expansion to more than 1,800 outlets in 39 states and the nation’s capital. By early 2013, the company says on its website, annual sales topped $5 billion as the chain offered up a taste of the South that went beyond chicken to such offerings as sweet tea, biscuits, and gravy. Read more
Wilson led his own bands in the ’50s and ’60s, but took frequent hiatuses as he became one of the most in demand arrangers and orchestrators in jazz and pop music. He wrote more than 60 charts for Charles, scored motion pictures such as Otto Preminger’s “Anatomy of a Murder,” and served as the conductor and music director of TV’s “The Red Foxx Show.” But despite his commercial success, he never gave up his dedication to jazz. “I decided to do what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to do was jazz. Because first and foremost, I’m a jazz musician,” Wilson told Jazz Times magazine in a 2011 interview. Read more
2013: Louise Currie, U.S. actress who starred in the movie serial “Adventures of Captain Marvel,” dies at 100.
2012: Leigh Hamilton, U.S. actress who appeared on “Kojak” and “The Mod Squad,” dies at 62.
2004: Frank Thomas, U.S. animator for Walt Disney who was a Disney legend, animating for movies such as “Snow White,” “Lady and the Tramp,” and “Sleeping Beauty,” dies at 92.
1999: Moondog, U.S. musician, poet, and prolific composer who was blind and well-known as a street musician in New York City, and whose music influenced Phillip Glass, dies of heart failure at 83.
1991: Brad Davis, U.S. actor known best for starring in the movie “Midnight Express,” dies at 41.
1981: Roy Wilkins, U.S. civil rights activist who was the executive director of the NAACP from 1964 until 1977, dies at 80.
1977: Zero Mostel, U.S. actor known best for starring in the stage version of “Fiddler on the Roof” and “The Producers,” dies at 62.
Mostel acted in over a dozen more films, starred in revivals of “Fiddler” and “Ulysses in Nighttown,” and even guest-starred on “The Muppet Show.” In a final remembrance of the dark days of the House Un-American Activities Committee’s blacklist, one of Mostel’s last films was 1976’s “The Front,” a fictional account of a restaurant cashier who agrees to submit scripts on behalf of blacklisted screenwriters. Playing a blacklisted comedian who spirals into despair and ultimately death, Mostel revisited a painful time – and he helped ensure the lessons of that time won’t be forgotten. Read more
1975: John Mylong, Austrian-born U.S. actor who appeared in “Robot Monster” and “Captain Scarface,” dies at 82.
1970: Percy Spencer, U.S. engineer and well-known inventor who held more than 130 patents, invented the microwave oven, and was supposedly paid only a $2 bonus without royalties for the invention from his employer, Raytheon, dies at 76.
1969: Bud Collyer, actor and announcer who was the first master of ceremonies for the TV game show “To Tell the Truth,” dies of a circulatory ailment at 61.
1965: Dorothy Dandridge, U.S. actress, singer, and dancer who was the first African-American nominated for an Academy Award for best actress, for her performance in the 1954 film “Carmen Jones,” dies at 42.