On Friday (Oct. 4), legendary actress Diahann Carroll lost her battle with cancer. She was only 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 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.
In addition, Carroll played the iconic Dominique Deveraux on ABC’s Dynasty and its spinoff The Colbys, was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the 1974 film Claudine, and won a Tony as well! The Bronx-born actress and singer a force to be reckoned with, and so to celebrate her beautiful life, here are 10 reasons why we will always love and admire Ms. Carroll.
Rest in power.
1. A Game-Changing Role
After having roles in several major films, including “Carmen Jones” and “Porgy and Bess,” Ms. Carroll had her first major role in 1968 as the lead character — a nurse — in “Julia.” The role was the first of its kind on television to not depict a Black woman as a domestic worker. The game-changing move allowed her to win a Golden Globe Award for “Best Actress In A Television Series.”
2. An Epic Tony Award Win
In 1962, Ms. Carroll was the first African American woman to win a Tony Award for Best Actress. She won for playing Barbara Woodruff in the musical, “No Strings.”
3. Playing The Ultimate Diva
Her infamous role as Dominique Deveraux in the soap opera hit “Dynasty” wasn’t created until 1984, and her character defined what it means to be an ultimate jetsetting diva. Her work on “Dynasty” also allowed her to reunite with her high school classmate Billy Dee Williams, who played her on-screen husband.
4. Launching A Clothing Line
Ms. Carroll didn’t just blaze the trail for actresses, she also made history in fashion. In 1997, she launched a clothing line, “Diahann Carroll,” featuring sportswear, dresses and suits for Black women professionals. She was the first Black woman to have a signature clothing line.
5. A Professional Life As A Model
Before Ms. Carroll was a major actress, she was a model and appeared in Ebony Magazine at the age of 15.
6. Coming Into “A Different World”
We all knew Whitley Gilbert was a diva on “The Cosby Show” spinoff “A Different World,” so who better to play her mother than Ms. Carroll? The actress played Whitley’s mother Marion and even received an Emmy nomination in 1989 for the role.
7. A Surprising Confession
In her memoir, “The Legs Are The Last To Go,” Ms. Carroll was surprisingly candid about her nine-year affair with actor Sydney Poitier. Both were married when they met on the set of “Porgy and Bess” in 1959, but they fell in love with each other. At one point, Ms. Carroll admits in her book that Sydney even promised to leave his wife for her, although that did not happen.
8. A Marriage
Ms. Carroll married her first husband Monte Kay in 1956. Her father did not approve of her marriage to the White record producer at first, but soon moved on. They had a daughter Suzanne, who was born in September 1960.
9. An Oscar Nomination
Ms. Carroll played the lead role in “Claudine,” a 1974 film about a mother raising her children while on welfare. The role earned her an Oscar nomination for “Best Actress.”
10. The Ultimate Survivor
Ms. Carroll was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 and had a lumpectomy that same year. After 12 weeks of radiation treatments, she now lives cancer-free, while spreading awareness on the disease.