Advertisement
Advertisement

Diahann Carroll (1935 - 2019)

A photo of Diahann Carroll
Diahann Carroll
1935 - 2019
Born
July 17, 1935
Bronx County, New York United States
Death
October 4, 2019
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Other Names
Carrol Diahann Johnson, Diahann Carroll, Diane (Johnson)
Summary
Diahann Carroll was born on July 17, 1935 in New York United States. She died on October 4, 2019 in Los Angeles, California United States at 84 years of age.
13 Followers
Updated: January 29, 2022
ADVERTISEMENT BY ANCESTRY.COM
Advertisement
Introduction
Diahann Carroll Born July 17, 1935 in The Bronx, New York City, New York, USA Died October 4, 2019 in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (complications from cancer) Birth Name Carol Diahann Johnson Height 5' 5" (1.65 m) Mini Bio (1) One of television's premier African-American series stars, elegant actress, singer and recording artist Diahann Carroll was born Carol Diann (or Diahann) Johnson on July 17, 1935, in the Bronx, New York. The first child of John Johnson, a subway conductor, and Mabel Faulk Johnson, a nurse; music was an important part of her life as a child, singing at age six with her Harlem church choir. While taking voice and piano lessons, she contemplated an operatic career after becoming the 10-year-old recipient of a Metropolitan Opera scholarship for studies at New York's High School of Music and Art. As a teenager she sought modeling work but it was her voice, in addition to her beauty, that provided the magic and the allure. When she was 16, she teamed up with a girlfriend from school and auditioned for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts show using the more exotic sounding name of Diahann Carroll. She alone was invited to appear and won the contest. She subsequently performed on the daily radio show for three weeks. In her late teens, she began focusing on a nightclub career and it was here that she began formulating a chic, glamorous image. Another TV talent show appearance earned her a week's engagement at the Latin Quarter. Broadway roles for black singers were rare but at age nineteen, Diahann was cast in the Harold Arlen/Truman Capote musical "House of Flowers". Starring the indomitable Pearl Bailey, Diahann held her own quite nicely in the ingénue role. While the show itself was poorly received, the score was heralded and Diahann managed to introduce two song standards, "A Sleepin' Bee" and "I Never Has Seen Snow", both later recorded by Barbra Streisand. In 1954 she and Ms. Bailey supported a riveting Dorothy Dandridge as femme fatale Carmen Jones (1954) in an all-black, updated movie version of the Georges Bizet opera "Carmen." Diahann later supported Ms. Dandridge again in Otto Preminger's cinematic retelling of Porgy and Bess (1959). During this time she also grew into a singing personality on TV while visiting such late-nite hosts as Jack Paar and Steve Allen and performing. Unable to break through into the top ranks in film (she appeared in a secondary role once again in Paris Blues (1961), a Paul Newman/Joanne Woodward vehicle), Diahann returned to Broadway. She was rewarded with a Tony Award for her exceptional performance as a fashion model in the 1962 musical "No Strings," a bold, interracial love story that co-starred Richard Kiley. Richard Rodgers, whose first musical this was after the death of partner Oscar Hammerstein, wrote the part specifically for Diahann, which included her lovely rendition of the song standard "The Sweetest Sounds." By this time she had already begun to record albums ("Diahann Carroll Sings Harold Arlen" (1957), "Diahann Carroll and Andre Previn" (1960), "The Fabulous Diahann Carroll" (1962). Nightclub entertaining filled up a bulk of her time during the early-to-mid 1960s, along with TV guest appearances on Carol Burnett, Judy Garland, Andy Williams, Dean Martin and Danny Kaye's musical variety shows. Little did Diahann know that in the late 1960s she would break a major ethnic barrier on the small screen. Though it was nearly impossible to suppress the natural glamour and sophistication of Diahann, she touchingly portrayed an ordinary nurse and widow struggling to raise a small son in the series Julia (1968). Despite other Black American actresses starring in a TV series (i.e., Hattie McDaniel in "Beulah"), Diahann became the first full-fledged African-American female "star" -- top billed, in which the show centered around her lead character. The show gradually rose in ratings and Diahann won a Golden Globe award for "Best Newcomer" and an Emmy nomination. The show lasted only two seasons, at her request. A renewed interest in film led Diahann to the dressed-down title role of Claudine (1974), as a Harlem woman raising six children on her own. She was nominated for an Oscar in 1975, but her acting career would become more and more erratic after this period. She did return, however, to the stage with productions of "Same Time, Next Year" and "Agnes of God". While much ado was made about her return to series work as a fashionplate nemesis to Joan Collins' ultra-vixen character on the glitzy primetime soap Dynasty (1981), it became much about nothing as the juicy pairing failed to ignite. Diahann's character was also a part of the short-lived "Dynasty" spin-off The Colbys (1985). Throughout the late 1980s and early 90s she toured with her fourth husband, singer Vic Damone, with occasional acting appearances to fill in the gaps. Some of her finest work came with TV-movies, notably her century-old Sadie Delany in Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (1999) and as troubled singer Natalie Cole's mother in Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story (2000). She also portrayed silent screen diva Norma Desmond in the musical version of "Sunset Blvd." and toured America performing classic Broadway standards in the concert show "Almost Like Being in Love: The Lerner and Loewe Songbook." She then had recurring roles on Grey's Anatomy (2005) and White Collar (2009). Diahann Carroll died on October 4, 2019, in Los Angeles, California. - IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / [contact link] Spouse (4) Vic Damone (3 January 1987 - 12 September 1996) ( divorced) Robert DeLeon (25 May 1975 - 31 March 1977) ( his death) Fredrick (Fredde) Jack Glusman (21 February 1973 - 20 July 1973) ( divorced) Monte Kay (26 February 1956 - 14 January 1963) ( divorced) ( 1 child) Trade Mark (1) Sweet, sultry voice. Trivia (42) In the 1960s she was engaged to Sidney Poitier. Won first prize on TV's Chance of a Lifetime (1952). She and actor Billy Dee Williams were high school classmates at The New York City High School of Music & Art, the school that in the 70s merged with the High School of Performing Arts, featured in "Fame" (1982), to become Laguardia High School. In the early 1970s, engaged to TV interviewer David Frost. Was a model for Ebony Fashion Fair. Mother of Suzanne Kay, media journalist (born 9 September 1960). Mother-in-law of Mark Bamford. Grandmother of two. Honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Won Broadway's 1962 Tony Award as Best Actress (Musical) for "No Strings," in a tie with Anna Maria Alberghetti for "Carnival."
Show & Tell Her Story
Share your memories, stories, and photos so that Diahann is always remembered.
Update biography

Diahann's biography

This collaborative biography is for you to show & tell Diahann's life so that she is always remembered. What's this?

Biography
Diahann Carroll
Most commonly known as
Diahann Carroll
Full name
Carrol Diahann Johnson, Diahann Carroll, Diane (Johnson)
Other names or aliases
Unknown. Did Diahann move a lot? Where was her last known location?
Last known residence
Female
Gender
Diahann Carroll was born on in Bronx County, New York United States
Birth
Diahann Carroll died on in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States
Death
Birth
Death
There is no cause of death listed for Diahann.
Cause of death
Do you know the final resting place - gravesite in a cemetery or location of cremation - of Diahann Carroll?
Burial / Funeral
Heritage

Ethnicity & Lineage

What is Diahann's ethnicity and where did her parents, grandparents & great-grandparents come from?

Nationality & Locations

Where was Diahann born and where did she live?
Childhood

Education

Did Diahann finish grade school, get a GED, go to high school, get a college degree or masters? What schools or universities did Diahann attend?

Religion

Was Diahann a religious woman?

Baptism

Was Diahann baptized?
Adulthood

Professions

Martin Ritt’s Paris Blues (1961) presented Carroll with her first co-starring role, as an American tourist in Paris who, with her friend (Joanne Woodward) meets two fellow American jazz players (Sidney Poitier and Paul Newman). She falls for one of them, but fails to persuade him to return with her to the “racist” US (at the same time, Poitier and Carroll were having an affair in real life). Diahann Carroll singing Quiet Nights and Quiet Stars Again for Preminger, in Hurry Sundown (1967), set in rural 1940s Georgia, she played an elegant local schoolteacher who had gone north and been corrupted. Despite a terrible script, Carroll came off slightly better than her co-stars, Michael Caine and Jane Fonda, in this condescending melodrama on race relations. After a conventional heist film, The Split (1968), in which Carroll was the wife of a robber (Jim Brown), came Claudine (1974), a romantic comedy and one of the few mainstream movies starring black actors in the 1970s that was not described as “blaxploitation”. Carroll, whom a critic described as being of an “unglamorised loveliness”, was witty, warm-hearted and self-deprecating as a Harlem widow on welfare with six children to bring up, who is courted by a garbage collector played by James Earl Jones. Surprisingly, after being Oscar-nominated as best actress for Claudine, Carroll did not return to feature films for 16 years. The reason was her rewarding work on television, namely the popular sitcom Julia, in which she played a widowed middle-class single mother. The role came in for some criticism for being apolitical, and a far cry from the reality of most black lives. But Carroll’s positive portrayal outweighed the negative. Diahann Carroll starring with Sidney Poitier in Paris Blues, 1961. There followed many guest appearances in TV series and the role of Maya Angelou’s selfish mother in an adaptation of the acclaimed autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1979). However, it was her role as the sleek Dominique Deveraux, which Carroll claimed made her “the first black b**** on television” in the glossy Dynasty (1984-87) and its spin-off The Colbys, that brought her greatest fame. As the character owned a music company and was a successful singer, the soap also gave Carroll the chance to display her vocal talents, already apparent from her several albums and club appearances.

Personal Life

Share highlights of Diahann's life. Experiences, organizations, & how she spent her time.

Military Service

Did Diahann serve in the military or did a war or conflict interfere with her life?
Obituary

Average Age

Life Expectancy

Advertisement
Advertisement

Family Tree

Diahann's immediate relatives including parents, siblings, partnerships and children in the Carroll family tree.

Diahann's Family Tree

Parent
Parent
Diahann Carroll Diahann Carroll
Partner
Child
Partner
Child
Sibling

Friends

Friends can be as close as family. Add Diahann's family friends, and her friends from childhood through adulthood.

Add bio

Comments

Leave a comment to ask questions, share information, or simply to show that you care about Diahann.

Cancel

Obituary

Share Diahann's obituary or write your own to preserve her legacy.

Diahann Carroll obituary Actor who broke down racial barriers in casting and became a star of Dynasty. Photograph: ABC Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images When Dominique Deveraux first met Alexis Colby in episode 87 of the TV soap opera Dynasty in 1984, another high hurdle towards racial equality was overcome. Dominique was glamorous, sophisticated, wealthy and intelligent, but just as conniving as Alexis. She also just happened to be African American. Played by Diahann Carroll, who has died aged 84 of cancer, she was a match for Joan Collins’ Alexis, doubling the “nasty” in Dynasty. Carroll was among the foremost African American actors to break down long-seated prejudices in casting. She was the first black performer to have her own sitcom, with Julia, which ran for 86 episodes (1968-71), and the first to win an Emmy in the category of best actress in a leading role in a comedy series. She also won a Tony for her performance in the Broadway musical No Strings, written especially for her by Richard Rodgers, which highlighted an interracial romance without mentioning colour. Born in the Bronx, New York, she was the first child of John Johnson, a subway conductor, and his wife, Mabel (nee Faulk). When their daughter was an infant the family moved to Harlem, where she grew up. She started singing at the age of six with a Harlem church choir, a few years later becoming a recipient of a Metropolitan Opera scholarship for studies at the New York High School of Music and Art. After graduating she attended New York University, majoring in sociology. At the same time, having done modelling for Ebony magazine, she won a talent contest using the name of Diahann Carroll. This led to her performing on radio and television and in nightclubs while still in her teens. Her big break came in 1954 when Truman Capote chose her for a leading part in the Broadway musical House of Flowers, based on his short story and for which he wrote the book and lyrics. Carroll, who played a young sex worker in a Caribbean island bordello, had the best numbers, A Sleepin’ Bee and I Never Has Seen Snow. In the same year Carroll made her film debut in Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones (music supplied by Georges Bizet) in which she played a friend of Dorothy Dandridge in the title role, performing in the quintet Whizzin’ Away Along De Track. Carroll was dubbed by Bernice Peterson because her own voice was not considered operatic enough, and she was dubbed again (this time by Loulie Jean Norman) as Clara, the young mother “singing” the renowned lullaby Summertime in Porgy and Bess (1959), Preminger’s big-screen adaptation of George Gershwin’s opera. Among her other TV series was A Different World (1989-93), a spin-off from The Cosby Show, in which she appeared in eight episodes as the mother of a southern belle; The Lonesome Dove (1994-95) and Grey’s Anatomy (2006-07), for which she received a Prime Time Emmy nomination. Carroll was married and divorced four times: to the record producer Monty Kay, with whom she had a daughter, Suzanne; to a Las Vegas boutique owner, Freddie Glusman, whom she divorced on grounds of physical abuse; to a managing director of Jet magazine, Robert DeLeon, who spent large amounts of her money before dying in a car crash; and finally to the crooner Vic Damone, who neglected her for golf. She was engaged to the British broadcaster David Frost from 1971 to 1973. Much about these relationships was revealed in her memoir The Legs Are the Last to Go (2008). She is survived by Suzanne, a journalist, and two grandchildren, August and Sydney. • Diahann Carroll (Carol Johnson), actor and singer, born 17 July 1935; died 4 October 2019
ADVERTISEMENT BY ANCESTRY.COM
Advertisement

1935 - 2019 World Events

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Diahann's lifetime.

In 1935, in the year that Diahann Carroll was born, on September 8th, Louisiana Senator Huey Long was shot by Dr. Carl Weiss. Weiss was shot and killed immediately by Long's bodyguards - Long died two days later from his injuries. Long had received many death threats previously, as well as threats against his family. He was a powerful and controversial figure in Louisiana politics (and probably gained power through multiple criminal acts). His opponents became frustrated with their attempts to oust him and Dr. Weiss was the son-in-law of one of those opponents. His funeral was attended by 200,000 mourners.

In 1944, she was only 9 years old when on November 7th, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was reelected to a fourth term as President of the United States. Running against Thomas Dewey, Governor of New York, Roosevelt won 53.4 of the popular vote, Dewey got 45.9%.

In 1960, Diahann was 25 years old when on May 1st, an American CIA U-2 spy plane, piloted by Francis Gary Powers, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over the Soviet Union. Powers ejected and survived but was captured. The U.S. claimed that the U-2 was a "weather plane" but Powers was convicted in the Soviet Union of espionage. He was released in 1962 after 1 year, 9 months and 10 days in prison.

In 1978, when she was 43 years old, on November 18th, Jim Jones's Peoples Temple followers committed mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana - where they had moved, from San Francisco, as a group. Jones was the leader of the cult and ordered his followers to drink cyanide-laced punch, which they did. Whole families (women and children included) died - more than 900 people in all.

In 1997, by the time she was 62 years old, on July 1st, Hong Kong was returned to China. In 1898, Great Britain was awarded Hong Kong for 99 years. In a subsequent agreement, China agreed to allow Hong Kong to remain capitalist. So the handing over of the area ended British rule but did not change the economic system of Hong Kong.

Back to Top