Halle Berry

By Randolph, Laura B. | Ebony, August 1999 | Go to article overview

Halle Berry


Randolph, Laura B., Ebony


On how She Found Dorothy Dandridge's Spirit--And Finally Healed Her Own

I'M not sure I want to talk about this publicly," Halle Berry says warily. "I don't want people to think I'm a quack." The "this" is a series of eerie incidents Halle swears occurred while she was shooting Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, the HBO movie ailing this month in which she stars as the legendary beauty who made history as the first Black woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

They started when Halle brought home an original Dorothy Dandridge gown, the one she wore on The Ed Sullivan Show. Dandridge's longtime manager, Earl Mills, gave it to Halle, along with the rights to the book he wrote about the star, a book on which Halle based the movie.

When she finally got up the nerve to try the gown on, the way it fit her--perfectly, like a glove--was eerie, Halle says, but she took it as a sign that she should be starring in the movie she'd spent the last five years of her life trying in vain to convince the major Hollywood studios to support. "It felt like validation," she says of the way Dandridge's gown hugged every her curve. "I thought, `If the dress fits, wear it.'"

But then all kinds of weird stuff started happening. She'd be watching television and the lights would start flickering on and off. Or she'd come home and find her patio door wide open, even though--after the first time it happened--she'd made it a point not only to lock the door but to turn on the security system before she left for the set.

Even stranger were the dragging noises her housekeeper insisted came from Halle's bedroom whenever Halle went out. "Every time she heard them," she says, "she'd find the chair in front of my vanity pulled out." As if someone had been sitting in it? Halle shrugs her shoulders. "All I can tell you is she'd push the chair back in, and the next time I'd go out, it would be pulled out again."

As weird as those incidents were, they are not what convinced Halle she had to return the dress. That would be the night she says she saw something, to use her word, "supernatural," something for which, even now, she has no explanation.

"I was very protective of the gown and so I kept it in the den, covered in plastic," says Halle who, months after the incident, recounts it with a combination of wonderment and disbelief. "One day I heard this crackling noise, and I thought it was water boiling on the stove." The problem, says Halle, was the sound was coming from the den. "When I looked in, I saw this tiny little baby doll dress floating in front of Dorothy's gown," she says. "It freaked me out so much I just ran up to my bedroom and curled up in a ball. I was so hysterical I ended up calling Geri [Branton, Dandridge's closet friend]. I asked her if she'd ever had anything like that happen to her. She said, `Honey, I talk to Dottie all the time, and if she is at your house, she means you no harm.' I thought about it all night and decided that I was supposed to use the dress for inspiration, but the time had come to give it back."

Not that letting it go was easy. Even now, when Halle talks about returning the gown, her eyes unexpectedly well with tears. "In my mind, when the gown left, Dorothy left with it," she says. "And I wanted so much to hold on to a piece of her because, this may be my ego or my fantasy, but I believe Dorothy passed the ball to me. And I say that with such strong feelings of responsibility and humility. She blazed a trail for Black actresses and fought so hard to widen horizons for our people. That's how I approach my career. I want to fight as hard as she did."

What Halle wants more than anything, however, is to do the one thing Dandridge, for all her beauty and talent, was unable to: She wants to be at peace with herself, her life, her choices. "In my own life, I am determined to change the ending," she says, referring to Dandridge's tragic death in 1965, at the age of 42, from a drug overdose that many, including Halle, believe was not accidental. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Halle Berry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.