Dorothy Jean Dandridge was a film and theatre actress, singer and dancer. She is perhaps best known for being the first black actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1954 film Carmen Jones. Dandridge performed as a vocalist in venues such as the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater. During her early career, she performed as a part of The Wonder Children, later The Dandridge Sisters and appeared in a succession of films, usually in uncredited roles. In 1959, she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Porgy and Bess. She is the subject of the 1999 HBO biographical film, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.The father of her daughter, Harolyn Suzanne) and then to hotel owner Jack Denison. Dandridge died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 42.
Benjamin Earl King (September 28, 1938 – April 30, 2015), known as Ben E. King, was an American soul and R&B singer. He was perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of "Stand by Me"—a US Top 10 hit, both in 1961 and later in 1986 (when it was used as the theme to the film of the same name), a number one hit in the UK in 1987, and no. 25 on the RIAA's list of Songs of the Century—and as one of the principal lead singers of the R&B vocal group the Drifters. King's "I (Who Have Nothing)" was selected for the Sopranos Peppers and Eggs Soundtrack CD (2001).
King was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
On March 27, 2012, the Songwriters Hall of Fame announced that "Stand By Me" would receive its 2012 Towering Song Award and that King would be honored with the 2012 Towering Performance Award for his recording of the song. It was announced on May 1, 2015, that King had died at the Hackensack University Medical Center on April 30, 2015, at the age of 76. His agent said he suffered from "coronary problems" at the time of his death. King was survived by his wife of 51 years, Betty.