Researching 1954 for other posts, I came upon the realization that Life Magazine had featured not one, not two but three of the eventual Best Actress nominees on their covers that year in April (Grace Kelly who had a lot of films out that year including The Country Girl), September (Judy Garland for A Star is Born) and November (Dorothy Dandridge as "Hollywood's Fiery Carmen Jones"). It was "Hollywood's Brightest and Busiest New Star" vs. the World's Greatest Entertainer for the golden statue that year. The tag line to the Judy article was "Judy Garland Takes Off After Oscar" but it was not to be and Grace Kelly cemented the Princess effect with Oscar just a year after that had already helped Audrey Hepburn to her Roman Holiday win. (With Oscar, it rarely turns out that well for the older women, as you know)
This particular Best Actress race will haunt actressexuals forever as Judy Garland's A Star is Born performance is one of the greatest ever committed to celluloid. Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina) and Jane Wyman (Magnificent Obsession) were also nominated that year but did not get a Life cover. That's weird in Audrey's case as she was a regular cover girl.
Finally while everyone knows that Dorothy Dandridge was a trailblazer this cover represents a twofer: She was not only the first African American nominated for a Leading Role at the Oscars (previous nominations had only happened in Supporting Actress) she was also the very first black woman to appear on the cover of Life Magazine!
Have you ever seen Carmen Jones? We've talked about it before.