While many people today know her from her work on the primetime soap Dynasty, legendary actress Diahann Carroll made headlines with her amazing work long before that. Now comes news that the pioneering actress has passed away at the age of 84.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, her producer-journalist daughter, Suzanne Kashe, told them that her mother died of cancer while at home. She had an amazing career that influenced so many actresses who would come after her.
Diahann Carroll’s Legacy
She was born Carol Diann (or Diahann) Johnson on July 17, 1935, in the Bronx, New York, and music was an integral part of childhood. She took voice and piano lessons and considered a career in opera when she received a Metropolitan Opera scholarship for studies at New York’s High School of Music and Art. Her teen years saw her modeling.
By 16, she wanted to use the more exotic name of Diahann Carroll to try out for the Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts show. Though she auditioned with a pal, she was the one chosen to appear and went on to win the contest. She later began to focus on a nightclub career.
While roles on Broadway were scarce at the time, she was cast at the age of 19 in the Harold Arlen/Truman Capote musical House of Flowers. Carroll would go on to win a Tony Award for her turn as a fashion model in the musical No Strings in 1962. The show was an interracial love story and co-starred Richard Kiley.
But it was her titular role in NBC’s television’s Julia, from 1968-1971, that made her a household name. Julia was the story of a widowed nurse raising her young son and was an important part of television history and it earned her an Emmy nomination.
Diahann Carroll would also go on to have a huge impact when she became the first African-American to join a primetime soap on Dynasty, playing leading man Blake Carrington’s half-sister, Dominique Deveraux. She was delicious fun and once again became beloved by fans. In between those two landmark TV roles, she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her work in the film, Claudine, in the mid-1970s.
On the personal side, she was married four times, the last being to singer Vic Damone, and had one child with her first husband, Monte Kay. She was also once engaged to Sidney Poitier and David Frost.