Called the black Marilyn Monroe by Lena Horne, pioneering black actress Dorothy Dandridge’s career did at least end the same way as Marilyn’s, with death by (possible) suicide at a young age. Ms. Dandridge started out as half of a touring act before she began to get small roles in Hollywood, first on an Our Gang episode in 1935 and then in the Marx Brothers’ A Day at the Races in 1937. Her big break came in 1954 when she starred in Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones. Her career began to decline in the early ’60s, and she was nearly penniless when she died of an overdose in 1965. Ms. Dandridge was both the first black woman to appear on the cover of Life and the first black woman to be nominated for Best Actress, but she wasn’t, unhappily, the first black actress to unwrap her milk-chocolate mams on screen. Not only did Dorothy go over the rainbow too soon, she also didn’t leave behind enough for us to remember her by.