Dorothy Dandridge was born on November 9, 1922, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Cyril Dandridge (October 25, 1895 – July 9, 1989), a cabinetmaker and minister, and Ruby Dandridge (née Butler), an aspiring entertainer. Dandridge’s parents separated shortly before her birth. Ruby created a song-and-dance act for her two young daughters, Vivian and Dorothy, under the name of “The Wonder Children”. The sisters toured the Southern United States almost non-stop for five years (rarely attending school), while Ruby worked and performed in Cleveland.
During the Great Depression, work virtually dried up for the Dandridges, as it did for many Chitlin’ circuit performers. Ruby moved to Hollywood, California, where she found steady work on radio and film in small parts as a domestic servant. In 1937, “The Wonder Children” were renamed “The Dandridge Sisters” and booked into such venues as the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City.
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