by Wanda Ray Willis- Raynor
HELLO AMERICA!—One could not ask for a better opening for the summer’s Hollywood entertainment season than that of “Lost Girl” starring the beautiful, talented Wanda Ray Willis who explodes on stage as one of the most beautiful, mysterious and talented ladies of our business, Dorothy Dandridge.
As a one woman show, Willis captures the subtle shadings of Dandridge which has never been observed before. Those of us who knew and worked with the late star understood her ambition, deep hunger for acceptance and love, so much so, she hooked up with men who only used her for their own needs or pleasure. When appearing with “Dottie” in Carmen Jones, directed by the ‘master’ Otto Preminger, it wasn’t the ‘Dorothy;’ we had all known prior to the filming of this picture; somehow, she had gotten lost along the way.
Even though I was just a fresh, nosy kid during that time, I sensed a tremendous need she had to please, to be loved and above all “accepted” as worthy of such an opportunity. In Wanda Ray Willis’ portrayal of the actress she successfully introduces many faces, shadows, the hungering needs of Dottie which has never been realized previously by an actress.
In my book, “Hollywood Through the Back Door” I mentioned how I finally was signed to do the role of character T-Bone by walking-in on a heavy sex scene involving Dorothy and Preminger. As a result, I was quickly signed to do the role I wanted so much. From that moment on, Dottie and I became even closer and following the completion of the film, we would often phone each other up and simply talk show biz or just gossip about all those we both knew. Even at that time, I enjoyed passing along bits and pieces about people in the theatre or those I knew or worked with in films. Dorothy ate it up.
Article from Photo journalist Osiris Munir.
On Wednesday, June 10, 2015 1:31 PM, Osiris Munir <> wrote:
I am a photojournalist here in Los Angeles covering events and local news for media and our online blog.
We are celebrating the life of esteemed legendary Hollywood actor, Dorothy Dandridge.
As you may or may not know, Dorothy death records have just been publicized after 50 years.
We thought it a great idea for your city of Cleveland to run an article or share the following blog post regarding the life of Ms. Dandridge as she is
I have copied Leroy Richardson III, the Director of, Lonely Girl the Life of Dorothy Dandridge with a Rare Photographic Exhibition and the actor, Bermuda born actor,
Wanda Ray Willis, who performs the one-woman 5 song, film memoir here at Vintage Hollywood.
For further information please visit:
THE SECRET LIFE OF DOROTHY DANDRIGE
By Wilfred Phillips
LB Times May 31, 2015
Lonely Girl, “The Secret Life of Dorothy Dandridge,” opened Saturday, May 30, at the beautiful Vintage Hollywood Theater in Los Angeles. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of black actress, Dorothy Dandridge. This superbly acted one woman play is starred by Wanda Ray Willis, and was written and directed by Leroy Richardson lll. Ms Willis is a seasoned actress who hails from Hamilton, Bermuda.
The packed audience heard the depiction of the life and times of Ms. Dandridge complete life story. Ms Willis, talks of her personal life experiences as she changed her wardrobe on stage. Many of the gowns she wore were just fabulous as she strutted on stage or when she sang in a night club setting. Many of her experiences with Hollywood and in show business in general were never clear cut with Dorothy. It was her sheer beauty alone that drew many men along racial lines to her. There are several segments of the play that consist of vintage video scenes that displayed her life as a silver screen Hollywood starlet and in her private life.
The music was orchestrated by John Stephens-Blue Vision.
Her rise to fame and fortune is much like a “Rags to Riches” story which consists of some of Hollywood deepest secrets. Very little was known of her friendship with Marilyn Monroe. A segment that got much laughter from the audience was when Dorothy said that Marilyn Monroe went to the old 54 Ballroom in South Los Angeles. Dorothy said Marilyn had the most fun there. If any of the film companies found that she was going to South Central, she would have been fired.
Dorothy also knew of the cause of death to Marilyn. John & Bobby Kennedy names were mention as a link to her strange death.
Dorothy, also talked about her neglected marriage to Harold Nicholas of the world famous dance team, The Nicholas Brothers. But it was film producer Otto Preminger, who was deeply in love with Ms. Dandridge. He showered her with expensive gifts, but he wouldn’t leave his current wife for her. Ms. Willis effective acting made you feel the pain and hurt of her rollercoaster life before drugs and alcohol took control of her. She died penniless on September 8, 1965 at a the age of 42.
Dorothy Dandridge’s most notable films were Stormy Weather, Porgy & Bess, and Carman Jones with Harry Bellefonte.
After the curtain call, there was a Q&A and photo session where theater goers asked questions with Wanda and Leroy about the play.
The only discrepancy of the play was the house sound system which made you listen closely to what was being said.
Lonely Girl will perform on June 5, at 8pm, June 7, Matinee at 3PM, June 13, 20, 27, at 8 PM.
Vintage Hollywood is located at 4000 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles.
For more information of this play and upcoming events, you can visit their website at www.vintagehollywoodprivateklub.com.
Wanda, Bermudian singer, musician, actor & writer began as a soloist at public functions in her home, Bermuda. Her music studies and career took her to New Jersey, New York, Japan and Los Angeles, where she now resides.With bachelors degrees in Music Theater/voice, and Speech Communications-radio and television, Wanda has been able to perform many genres of music and is a versatile performing artist who performs locally in Los Angeles and also overseas.
Wanada Ray Willis - Raynor
A must see and hear!
"This Beautiful, poised and multi-talented Performer will bedazzle, inspire and astound you with her vocal performance and enormous stage presence."
“I’m ready for the road”. Wanda reveals that she's alway's excited to go out on the road.
Ja'net Du Bois
Wanda RayWillis - Raynor
Lonely Girl, The Secret Life of Dorothy Dandridge, A one Woman musical Play.
The others are: Every 4th Friday at Cafe Frenza in Moorepark 7-10- Piano/vocal act
Also: The musical,North on South Central (Winner of 4 NAACP Awards) Mrs. Raynor performs the role of Dorothy Dandridge in the show.
Date July 21
Venue Jefferson Highschool.
The production is one of the featured events leading up to the yearly Jazz Festival in LA.