Devastating news today as we learned that legendary actress, Diahann Carroll, has passed away after a long bout with cancer.
She was 84 years old.
Carroll was a trailblazing icon in entertainment, playing memorable roles in classic films that garnered her attention, award consideration and opened doors for those who followed behind her hard fought path.
The Bronx native won a Tony, received an Oscar nomination and made history on television in two different roles in her career.
The singer and actress got her first major role when she was picked to play Julia in the NBC comedy, “Julia”, which was about Julia Baker, a widowed nurse whose husband was killed in the Vietnam War, who raised her young son while working for a doctor at an aerospace company. The show, which ran from 1968 to 1971, made Carroll the first African-American woman to star in a non-stereotypical role in her own primetime networking series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“We were saying to the country, ‘We’re going to present a very upper middle-class black woman raising her child, and her major concentration is not going to be about suffering in the ghetto,’ ” Carroll responded when pushback arose about her portraying a middle class Black woman who dated successful men in the show.
In 1974, Carroll burst onto the silver screen in “Claudine”, the story of a mother in Harlem raising six kids on her own. At first there was doubt that she could play the role, but, as she always did during her legendary career, she proved them wrong.
Then in 1984 she stepped back into TV as Dominique Deveraux in “Dynasty”, and blew television audiences out of the water as the first Black woman in a major role in a primetime soap opera. She continued the role on “The Colbys”, which ran from 1985 – 1986. It’s a role which put her opposite of Joan Collin’s infamous diva character of Alexis Carrington Colby.
While Carroll has played many characters across TV, film and Broadway, it is her legendary career of breaking down doors, shattering stereotypes and bringing others with her that most will remember. In 2011, she was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, a much fitting honor for an individual who meant so much to so many, especially those who would never have gotten their break without Carroll.
Rest In Power Diahann Carroll.