(Earl Mills about Dorothy Dandridge)by A.J. Flick on Aug. 21, 1999, under Business, Living
Citizen Staff Writer
Without question, Earl Mills loved Dorothy Dandridge completely.
”Earl was more than just a manager for Dorothy,” said Jovanna Manning, a former client of Mills’ who now serves as his assistant.
”He was a support system for her. She was troubled in many ways. She had an emotionally troubled childhood, and he was a steadying influence on her.”
Nearly 34 years to the day after the death of Dandridge, a singer-actress who broke many barriers for blacks in Hollywood, Mills still keeps her memory alive.
”She was a wonderful person who was very well liked,” said Mills, 86, yesterday from his Palm Springs, Calif., home. ”She was the first of what they call the black film stars. I spent all my time going about her career. I kept it very active.
”People liked her,” he added. ”She had charisma. She had very good thoughts about everything.”
It was Mills’ 1970 biography of Dandridge that inspired the HBO movie ”Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.” Publisher Bentley Morriss of Holloway House said many Hollywood movers and shakers, including Janet Jackson, wanted to make a movie of the book, but studios were reluctant to take on the project.
Holloway House has updated Mills’ book with a chapter written by journalist Marianne Ruuth, who interviewed the stars and director of ”Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” including actor Brent Spiner of ”Star Trek: The Next Generation” fame, who plays Mills.
Spiner, who met Mills and was allowed to sift through mementos of Dandridge’s career, described him as ”a guy who is desperately in love, almost from the moment he meets her.”
”In the first couple of scenes,” Spiner says in the book, ”he seems to be in control. He is an agent, he’s a manager, he’s a businessman, pretty sure of himself, doing pretty well. I think he feels good about himself.
”Then he meets her and relinquishes control almost immediately. He will do anything for her, whatever she wants. Little by little, he gives it all up for her, basically losing himself, becoming someone who serves someone else.”
Mills, who revealed in the book that he and Dandridge became lovers while on a Mexico retreat, approves of the movie adaptation of his book.
”It was a great occasion,” he said of a screening he attended. ”People told me how wonderful it was. They all made me stand up and take all of their cheers.”
Mills believes Dandridge would be pleased with the attention her life and career are getting.
”He was absolutely loyal and devoted to her through thick and thin,” said Manning. ”It wasn’t until the very end of her life that she realized he was the one and only person who truly loved her.”
A.J. Flick’s e-mail: ajflick@
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