stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
PIONEER BROKE GROUND FOR BLACK TV PERFORMERS
space
She earned a Tony Award and an Academy Award nomination, and often appeared in roles previously considered exclusive territory for white actors
space
By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY
ASSOCIATED PRESS
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Wednesday, October 9, 2019 – Page B23

NEW YORK -- Diahann Carroll, the Oscar-nominated actress and singer who won critical acclaim as the first black woman to star in a non-servant role in a TV series in Julia, has died. She was 84.

Ms. Carroll's daughter, Susan Kay, told the Associated Press her mother died Friday in Los Angeles of cancer.

During her long career, Ms. Carroll earned a Tony Award for the musical No Strings and an Academy Award nomination for best actress for Claudine.

But she was perhaps best known for her pioneering work on Julia. Ms. Carroll played Julia Baker, a nurse whose husband had been killed in Vietnam, in the groundbreaking situation comedy that aired from 1968 to 1971.

"Diahann Carroll walked this earth for 84 years and broke ground with every footstep. An icon. One of the all-time greats," director Ava DuVernay wrote on Twitter. "She blazed trails through dense forests and elegantly left diamonds along the path for the rest of us to follow. Extraordinary life. Thank you, Ms. Carroll."

Although she was not the first black woman to star in her own TV show (Ethel Waters played a maid in the 1950s series Beulah), she was the first to star as someone other than a servant.

NBC executives were wary about putting Julia on the network during the racial unrest of the 1960s, but it was an immediate hit.

It had its critics, though, including some who said Ms. Carroll's character, who is the mother of a young son, was not a realistic portrayal of a black American woman in the 1960s.

"They said it was a fantasy," Ms. Carroll recalled in 1998. "All of this was untrue. Much about the character of Julia I took from my own life, my family."

Not shy when it came to confronting racial barriers, Ms. Carroll won her Tony portraying a highfashion American model in Paris who has a love affair with a white American author in the 1962 Richard Rodgers musical No Strings. Critic Walter Kerr described her as "a girl with a sweet smile, brilliant dark eyes and a profile regal enough to belong on a coin."

She appeared often in plays previously considered exclusive territory for white actors: Same Time, Next Year, Agnes of God and Sunset Boulevard (as faded star Norma Desmond, the role played by Gloria Swanson in the 1950 film).

"I like to think that I opened doors for other women, although that wasn't my original intention," she said in 2002.

Her film career was sporadic. She began with a secondary role in Carmen Jones in 1954 and five years later appeared in Porgy and Bess, although her singing voice was dubbed because it wasn't considered strong enough for the Gershwin opera. Her other films included Goodbye Again, Hurry Sundown, Paris Blues and The Split.

The 1974 film Claudine provided her most memorable role. She played a hard-bitten single mother of six who finds romance in Harlem with a garbage man played by James Earl Jones. Ms. Carroll says she got the role after the intended lead actress, Diana Sands, became sick and insisted her friend take the role (Ms.

Sands died in 1973). But Ms. Carroll said those behind the movies did not see her in the role because of her work in Julia and made her audition without makeup.

"Give me a chance. Just give me the opportunity to show you that I understand," she recalled telling them in an interview with the National Visionary Leadership Project. "I'm an actress, singer, from New York City, from the streets of New York, and I pride myself on my work. ... I would like to be given the opportunity to stretch my wings."

She would end up being nominated for her Oscar, and she recalled the filming a magical experience.

"I had such a good time, I almost told them, 'You don't need to pay me,' " she added.

In the 1980s, she joined in the long-running primetime soap opera Dynasty as Dominique Deveraux, the glamorous half-sister of Blake Carrington; her physical battles with Alexis Carrington, played by Joan Collins, were among fan highlights. Another memorable role was Marion Gilbert, as the haughty mother of Whitley Gilbert (played by Jasmine Guy) on the TV series A Different World.

"Diahann Carroll you taught us so much. We are stronger, more beautiful and risk takers because of you. We will forever sing your praises and speak your name. Love Love Love, Debbie," wrote actress, dancer and director Debbie Allen, who was a producer on A Different World.

More recently, she had a number of guest shots and small roles in TV series, including playing the mother of Isaiah Washington's character, Dr. Preston Burke, on Grey's Anatomy and a stretch on the TV show White Collar as the widow June.

She also returned to her roots in nightclubs. In 2006, she made her first club appearance in New York in four decades, singing at Feinstein's at the Regency. Reviewing a return engagement in 2007, a New York Times critic wrote that she sang Both Sides Now with "the reflective tone of a woman who has survived many severe storms and remembers every lightning flash and thunderclap."

Carol Diann Johnson was born in New York and attended the High School for the Performing Arts. Her father was a subway conductor and her mother a homemaker. She recalls when she was around 3 or 4, her parents took her to an aunt in North Carolina and left her in the care of her aunt, without notice, for a year. She said it took a long time to forgive her parents, although she eventually did, and was there for them in their later years.

"It happened, it's over, it's done. A mature person finds a way to let go of that," she told OWN's Masterclass in an interview a few years ago. "They did a lot of wonderful things. They lived, gave me everything they possibly could, and they passed on."

She began her career as a model in a segregated industry; she got much of her work because of publications such as the black magazine Ebony. A prize from Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts TV show led to nightclub engagements.

In her 1998 memoirs, Diahann, Ms. Carroll traced her turbulent romantic life, which included liaisons with Harry Belafonte, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Sidney Poitier and David Frost. She even became engaged to Mr. Frost, but the engagement was cancelled. An early marriage to nightclub owner Monte Kay resulted in Ms. Carroll's only child, Suzanne, as well as a divorce. She also divorced her second husband, retail executive Freddie Glusman, later marrying magazine editor Robert DeLeon, who died. Her most celebrated marriage was in 1987, to singer Vic Damone, and the two appeared together in nightclubs. But they separated in 1991 and divorced several years later.

After she was treated for breast cancer in 1998, she spoke out for more money for research and for free screening for women who couldn't afford mammograms. "We all look forward to the day that mastectomies, chemotherapy and radiation are considered barbaric," Ms. Carroll told a gathering in 2000.

Besides her daughter, she leaves grandchildren August and Sydney.

To submit an I Remember: obit@globeandmail.com Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page.

Please include I Remember in the subject field

Associated Graphic

Diahann Carroll is seen playing Norma Desmond in the Canadian production of Sunset Boulevard in 1995. Ms. Carroll won a Tony for her role in the 1962 Richard Rodgers musical No Strings.

THE CANADIAN PRESS


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Johanna_Schneller Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page