Inktober Redux 2022 - Day 17 - Dorothy Dandridge, Cleopatra
Day 17 - “Cleopatra” - Elizabeth Taylor starred in the epic, grandiose and vastly expensive 1963 historical film. Cleopatra, was not Egyptian, but Macedonian, so not black, but definitely a person of color. Scholars identify Cleopatra as having been essentially of Greek ancestry with Persian and Sogdian Iranian ancestry, based on the fact that her Macedonian Greek family (the Ptolemaic dynasty) had intermarried with the Seleucid dynasty. The film originally was to be directed by Rouben Mamoulian. His initial choice to play Cleopatra was Dorothy Dandridge, whom he had worked with on Porgy and Bess. Dandridge replied, "You won't have the guts to go through with this... They are going to talk you out of it.” The role ended up going to Taylor and Mammoulian was replaced by Mankiewicz after filming started. The WHAT IF here would have been fascinating if Mammoulian did have the guts to cast Dandridge and what the impact would have been if this film had been released with Dandridge in the leading role playing opposite Richard Burton’s Marc Antony and Rex Harris Julius Caesar. It went not to become a box office smash though not able to recuperate its production costs and earned 4 of the 5 Oscars it was nominated for. The film, for all it decadent faults, still continues to warrant film discussion and influence fashion to this day.