Harolyn Suzanne Nicholas was born on the 2nd of September 1943, she is the only child to Dorothy Jean Dandridge – an African American singer, dancer, theater and film actress. Her mother was best known for being the first African American actress to have been nominated for an academy award for her flawless performance in the 1954 classic, Carmen Jones.
Harolyn Suzanne’s mother broke barriers and boundaries, paving the way for colored performers in Hollywood. She was the first African American to grace the cover of Life Magazine.
Her father was Harold Nicholas, arguably considered to be one of the world’s greatest dancers. He was one half of a two man dance group. Nicholas and his brother Fayard were superstars in every right.
They were known for their exciting tap dance numbers in studio musical features. They were also first class inductees at the Apollo theater hall of fame in 1986. This amazing duo influenced a generation of dance and music icons such as Michael Jackson and Debbie Allen to name a few.
Harold and Dorothy, parents of Harolyn, we married for a period of nine years, divorced in 1951.
Harolyn Suzanne Nicholas came from a blood line of immense talent, skill and performing arts, but was not given a chance by life, to create her own success and contribute to the legacy of her parents.
From birth, Harolyn was disabled; the speech center of her brain was damaged. Lynn, as she was fondly called by her mother for short; was born with a speech defect and did not have the capacity to recognize or communicate with anybody, including her Dorothy her mother.
An excerpt from an old interview where she spoke about Harolyn, for the first time publicly reads; “she has no conception of time, she doesn’t even know I’m her mother” “how terrible is it never to be able to really speak to your child”.
Harolyn Suzanne Nicholas was a happy child, but circumstances leading to her birth proved a difficult one which will leave her with the mental capacity of a four year old child, for the rest of her life. The medical name for this disorder was called; cerebral anoxia – she had an asphyxiated condition at birth; due to lack of oxygen or blood circulation to a certain part of the brain.
For years, her mother wrongly blamed herself for her daughter’s mental impairment, due to trying to delay delivery, ignoring labor contractions, in an effort to wait for Harold, her then husband to return in time for Harolyn’s birth. When it was the surgical instruments used during the delivery that caused damage to her head.
Although her father was barely present through her formative years, with little or no support, Dorothy did everything humanly possible, to find a solution for Harolyn’s condition. Sadly, a round trip to several doctors and specialists yielded no results. An attempt to enroll her in a learning institution proved abortive, no school will accept her.
This chain of uncontrollable events put a strain on the young couple’s marriage, and led to extended periods of absence, lack of financial support and eventually a divorce from Harold.
Raising Lynn all alone became overbearing on her mother, who was still an ambitious and motivated actress. As her disorder grew difficult to manage, she had to be placed in a private care institution. These bills were pricey.
Dorothy’s finances took a dive for the worse after a bogus oil deal investment went burst, leading to severe financial losses. In 1963, after filing for bankruptcy, and unable to keep up with care costs for her disabled daughter, she was returned to her doorstep; aged 17 years.
Now bankrupt and unable to fend and care sufficiently for her child, Dorothy finally forfeited her parental rights to Harolyn Suzanne Nicholas, and made her ward of the state of California.
Dorothy passed away on the 8th of September 1965, an autopsy revealed that the cause of death was from a drug overdose. Harold – her estranged father died 3rd of July year 2000, at age 79.
It is unclear beyond reasonable doubt, if Harolyn Suzanne Nicholas is dead or alive. Speculations and unconfirmed reports about her demise in 2003 subsist even to this day. While some claim, she is still in a mental hospital facility in California.
There is no accurate information on her welfare after she was made a ward of the state by her mother. She would currently be aged 73 years today.
The priceless question that evade a valid answer is; where exactly is the daughter of the late iconic African American actress; Harolyn Suzanne Nicholas? No one seems to know.