Steve Goldstein is the man responsible for the photographs in this story.
He's been a great contributor to Findadeath.com. For that shot of the inside of
the apartment, we owe him big time. Nerves of steel, Steve. Thanks.
Dorothy was it. She was beautiful, she could sing, and she could act. Failed
relationships, a disabled daughter and racism had all taken a toll on her. By
1965, she had money problems, and an intimate relationship with pills and
Dorothy Dandridge lived in the El
Palacio Apartments, at 8495
Fountain Avenue, in apartment D2. Here's her window, from
the outside. Wanna see her
On September 8, 1965, her manager Earl Mills arrived at her apartment to help
her pack for a comeback engagement in New York City. When she failed to answer the
door, he used his key, but the chain was on the door.
He shut the door, and left for a couple of hours.
Upon his return, the door was still chained. He went to his car and got the
tire iron out, and used it to break the chain. He went
inside and searched the apartment, calling out for
her. He got to the bathroom and found Dorothy lying on the floor. She was
wearing a blue scarf on her head, a bit of makeup, and nothing else. He touched
her face, and knew she was dead. He called her physician and an ambulance. She
was 42 years old.
Sheriff's deputies carried Dorothy's
body from the apartment on a stretcher, along with
what the scene looks like today.
Strangely, a few months before she died, Dorothy gave a note to her manager
in an envelope marked, "To Whomsoever Discovers Me After Death -
Important." The hand-written note on the inside read, "In case of my
death - to whomever discovers it - Don't remove anything I have on - scarf, gown
or underwear - Cremate me right away - If I have anything, money, furniture,
give to my mother Ruby Dandridge - She will know what do to.
- Dorothy Dandridge
Dorothy's body was taken to the coroner's office for an autopsy, and later
she was embalmed at the Angelus Funeral Home at 3875 Crenshaw, and dressed in a
cream-colored lace gown with a matching scarf. She was put into a polished
walnut casket, which remained closed.
Her final journey was to Forest Lawn, Glendale, for cremation and interment.
There was a service in the Little
Church of the Flowers, attended by Pearl Bailey, Sammy
Davis Jr., James Mason, and Sidney Poitier. Pallbearers were Byron Morrow, Joel
Fluellen, Harold Jovien, J. Kennedy Lightfoot, Leo Branton, Ben Irwin, Terry
Hunt, Sleazy Peter Lawford and Slappy White. Quite a list. I wonder how it was
Icky Peter Lawford (he and Dorothy were close friends) was supposed to speak, but was
too overcome by emotion. The service lasted only fifteen minutes. Afterward, she
was cremated and stuck in a wall in the Freedom Mausoleum.
Initial reports of Dorothy's death stated that there was no evidence of
suicide, accident or foul play. The official cause of death was "Accident,
On September 10th, UPI reported that the autopsy revealed that she
had died because of a blood clot caused by a fractured toe. Yes. "Dorothy
Dandridge died because bone marrow particles had entered her blood stream and
reached her brain and lungs." In November, the L.A. County Medical Examiner
announced, "Dorothy Dandridge died as a result of an overdose of drugs used
to treat psychiatric depression." Acute ingestion of Tofranil, the
anti-depressant, killed her.
Dorothy's estate consisted of $4,000 worth of furniture and $2.14 in her bank
account. That is not an error. Two dollars and fourteen cents. How terribly,
terribly sad. On the other hand, she used up all her money. Good for
Trivia: She was the first black woman ever to be nominated for best actress,
for her role in Carmen Jones. The ironic bit is that her singing
voice was dubbed in the flick.
If you were beautiful, and could act and sing, it was probably a good idea
not to become friends with Peter Lawford.