Diahann Carroll, the beautiful award-winning and groundbreaking actress who made television history with her roles on shows like “Julia” and “Dynasty”, died Friday. She was 84.
Carroll died at her home in Los Angeles after a long bout with cancer, her daughter, producer-journalist Suzanne Kay, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Born Carol Diann Johnson in New York City, she attended the New York High School of Music and Art on a scholarship.
At the age of 16, she adopted the name Diahann Carroll and won an audition for the Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts television show.
Carroll was first known as a Las Vegas and nightclub performer and for her performances on Broadway and in the Hollywood musicals Carmen Jones and Porgy & Bess when she was approached by an NBC executive to star as Julia Baker, a widowed nurse raising a young son, on the comedy Julia.
She didn’t want to do it. “I really didn’t believe that this was a show that was going to work,” she said in a 1998 chat for the website The Interviews: An Oral History of Television. “I thought it was something that was going to leave someone’s consciousness in a very short period of time. I thought, ‘Let them go elsewhere.'”
One of her biggest roles on the big screen with her title-role performance in Claudine (1974), playing a Harlem woman on welfare who raises six children on her own and falls for a garbage collector (James Earl Jones).
Perhaps one of her biggest and most memorable roles was that of Dominique Deveraux, a mixed-race diva, in the prime time soap opera Dynasty. She changed the television landscape with that role by becoming the first major African-American character on a primetime soap opera.
She was fierce on that show. She was sophisticated, charming, beautiful and didn’t hold her tongue when it came to telling it like it is! People loved her on that show (and by people, I mean me, lol).
More recently, Carroll had recurring roles as Jasmine Guy’s mother on NBC’s A Different World (remember when she didn’t want Whitley to marry Dwayne Wayne? She also played Isaiah Washington’s mom on…