The acting world last one of hits most regal leading ladies in Diahann Carroll, who passed last week.

Carol Diahann Johnson was born on July 17, 1935 in The Bronx, and raised primarily in Harlem. She attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts and was a classmate of Billy Dee Williams. At 15, Carroll began modeling for “Ebony” magazine, leading to a number of professional shoots while her parents helped support her entertainment dreams with dance and singing classes.

That training paid off in 1954 when Carroll, then 18, made a big splash on the talent competition show, “Chance Of A Lifetime,” taking the top slot for four weeks and ultimately winning the top prize. The show increased her visibility by way of gigs at some of New York’s top performing venues. That same year, Carroll made her film debut in “Carmen Jones” and began performing on Broadway. In 1962, she became the first Black woman to win a Tony Award for her role in the “No Strings” musical.

Carroll’s next big break occurred in 1968 with the debut of “Julia,” the first show starring a Black actress in a lead role. In 1968, Carroll won a Golden Globe for “Best Actress In A Television Series” and was nominated for an Emmy the following year. In 1984, Carroll joined the cast of the hit drama “Dynasty” in the role of Dominique Devereux, joining her former classmate Williams.

In 1989, Carroll earned an Emmy nod for her recurring role on “A Different World” as Marion Gilbert, the mother of Jasmine Guy’s character, Whitley Gilbert-Wayne. In 1991, she starred in “The Five Heartbeats” film opposite of Chuck Patterson, playing Eleanor Potter, the wife of Jimmy Potter.

In a return to the small screen, Carroll shined in her role as Jane Burke, the mother of Dr. Preston Burke, on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” series. She also had a recurring role in USA Network’s “White Collar” drama that ended in 2014. Along with her Tony and Golden Globe wins, Carroll has been nominated for an Academy Award and is the first Black person to get nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award.

Carroll was married four times. She also famously dated Sidney Poitier and was married to actor Vic Damone. She is survived by her daughter Suzanne Kay Bamford with her first husband, Monte Kay.

PHOTO: PR Photos





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