We’ve lost another legend this week.
Legendary “Dynasty” actress Diahann Carroll lost her battle with cancer. She was 84-years-old.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Oscar-nominee and Tony winner’s daughter, Suzanne Kay, announced that the actress passed away inside her Los Angeles home on Friday.
“Carroll was a consummate entertainer and beloved icon whose career spanned nearly seven decades,” Kay said in a statement. “She paved the way for many and never allowed anyone to limit or define her.”
Carroll was best known for becoming the first African-American actress not to play a maid on television with her lead role in the NBC comedy Julia, which centered on played Julia Baker, a nurse who was raising her young son after losing her husband.
She also the first Black woman to lead her own show.
Debuting in 1968, the show was a ratings success its first year, landing Carroll an Emmy nomination for Lead Actress in A Comedy Series, the first African-American woman to do so, and a Golden Globe nom. The show was canceled after three seasons.
Prior to Julia, Carroll was a singer and stage performer on Broadway and beyond, having roles in the iconic films Porgy And Bess and Carmen Jones. Soon after, an NBC exec approached her about playing Julia, which she wasn’t sure she wanted to do, THR noted.
“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.’ ”
Her next big role was in the Oscar-nominated 1974 film Claudine, where she played a single mother on welfare trying to balance poverty, motherhood, and love.
Taking on smaller roles and doing Broadway, Carroll was back in the big lights playing Dominique Deveraux, “the first prominently featured African-American character on a primetime soap opera” in ABC’s Dynasty and its spinoff The Colbys, THR wrote.
And Carroll was here for it.
“They’ve done everything [on the show]. They’ve done incest, homosexuality, murder. I think they’re slowly inching their way toward interracial,” she recalled in a 1984 piece for People magazine. “I want to be wealthy and ruthless … I want to be the first black bitch on television.”
And bitch Ms. Deveraux was:
Born Carol Diahann Johnson, she was delivered in Fordham Hospital in the Bronx on July 17, 1935, and in her teens became a model like magazines including Ebony,Tan and Jet.
In her later years, Carroll was also known for playing Jasmine Guy’s mother on NBC’s A Different World, as Isaiah Washington’s mom on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, a Park Avenue widow on USA’s White Collar and appeared in Kasi Lemmons’s 1997 classic Eve’s Bayou.
Earlier this year, Carroll had her own Oprah’s Master Class where she opened up about being a trailblazer in Hollywood, her three marriages and dealing with her parent’s abandonment.
Carroll is survived by her daughter Kay and grandchildren, August and Sydney.
To celebrate this icon, here’s a look at her life over the years. Rest in power Diahann.