Timeless Beauty...Diahann Carroll

"If you are not invited to the party, throw your own!" Diahann Carroll

On this day 79 years ago Carroll Diahann Johnson was born in Bronx, New York. Although she was raised in Harlem, New York. She would later become known by her stage name as Diahann Carroll. As a child she developed a passion for music and performing arts, her parents specifically her mother saw her interest in entertainment. According to Diahann Carroll theatre was an avenue for African Americans in her neighborhood to be exposed to something cultural.

Diahann Carroll attended Music & Art High School the school focused on all forms of entertainment, Billy Dee Williams was a fellow classmate. By the time she was 15 years old Diahann Carroll became a model for Ebony Magazine her slim figure and height of 6 feet provided her with a strong presence.  After high school she briefly attended New York University studying sociology yet she lost interest in school. The decision to leave school made her parents upset although she assured them that she was doing the right thing. Three years later at the age of 18 Diahann Carroll began her career on television by making appearances on Chance of a Lifetime. As a contestant she sang "Why Was I Born?" and won the grand prize of  $1,000. For the following weeks she continued to win and she was booked to perform at nightclubs. While performing in nightclubs she encountered overt and aggressive racism.

The first film she starred in Carmen Jones (1954) an all-black film version of the Bizet musical "Carmen." She played the role of  Myrt a friend of the leading lady Carmen, she was 19 at the time. After starring in Carmen Jones her career moved towards progress she starred in the Broadway play House of Flowers, film offers followed Porgy and Bess and Paris Blues. She also made many television appearances on shows such as Peter Gunn and the Judy Garland Show.

In 1968 she landed the role of Julia Baker with the show titled "Julia" it was significant because this role was non conventional Julia was not a maid, yet an college educated widow raising her son while working as a nurse. The show ran from 1968-1971 and it was made with controversy from both Black and White audiences, whites southern audiences had an issue with educated "Negro woman." While the Black community believed the show was not realistic or relevant to the social and political climate  of America with the Civil Rights, Black Power Movement, and Vietnam War. Former NFL star turned actor Fred Williamson became Julia's love interest because it was an issue for her to have a new boyfriend each week.

By the late 1960s she starred in films such as The Split and Hurry Sundown. By 1974 she starred in the film Claudine which landed an Oscar nomination. After this film she starred in Roots: The Next Generation and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. In 1983 she returned to Broadway starring in Agnes of God and a year later starred on the nighttime soap opera Dynasty which made her America's favorite wealthy vixen. Her character Dominique Deveraux was the "first black bitch" on television. In 1989 she joined the cast of A Different World spin-off from  The Cosby Show, she played the role of Marion Gilbert wealthy Southern socialite and mother of Whitley Gilbert. She continued to work in television, film, and theatre in the 1990s, her most recent film was 2013's The Peeples. She currently stars as landlord June on the USA network show White Collar.

Why We Love Her? Diahann Carroll has carried herself in a dignified manner, she is a member of Hollywood's Golden Era, and she blazed the trail for actresses such as Kerry Washington and Halle Berry.

Toni's Thoughts: Her career has spanned for 60 years I would love to meet this lovely lady one day. Although I do believe I would be extremely star struck. She is regal and intelligent a mother, grandmother, and cancer survivor. Happy birthday and I wish you many more. If you have not read her memoir you should it is delightful.

Source: The Legs Are the Last Thing to Go: Marrying, Acting, and Other Things I've Learned The Hard Way, Diahann Carroll


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