• Who was Diahann Carroll? Pioneering actress dies at 84

    By: Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    Trailblazing actress, singer and model Diahann Carroll died Friday, according to her family. She was 84.

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    Carroll’s daughter, Susan Kay, told The Associated Press her mother died Friday in Los Angeles. Her publicist, Jeffrey Lane, told The New York Times that Carroll died of complications from breast cancer.

    Here are four things to know about the longtime actress:

    Carroll was the first African-American woman to star in a non-servant role on television.

    Carroll starred from 1968 to 1971 in the groundbreaking NBC sitcom "Julia." She portrayed Julia Baker, a nurse raising her young son after the death of her husband in the Vietnam War.

    "It was such a new concept, an African-American actor as the show's star, that the studio's makeup department at first did not have any cosmetics for black women," NBC News reported.

    "The studio had only dealt with the little American girls or European girls — all the same color," Carroll said, according to NBC News. "How could you have a makeup department and you don't have makeup for every skin in the United States of America?"

    Carroll began her career as a singer.

    Carroll first gained fame for her singing when she was 18 years old. In the early 1950s, she competed in the televised talent show "Chance of a Lifetime," where she won the $1,000 top prize three weeks running, according to news reports.

    Carroll had been a gifted singer since her childhood. By the time she was 6, she was performing with the children's choir of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, according to the Times. She attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan and sang throughout her career in nightclubs, on Broadway, in recordings and on television, the newspaper reported.

    Carroll got her first Hollywood and Broadway roles at 19.

    Carroll was 19 years old when she was cast in her first Hollywood role, playing a close friend of the titular character in 1954's "Carmen Jones," according to BBC News. That same year, she made her Broadway debut in "House of Flowers," according to Playbill.

    Carroll's work garnered her a Tony and a Golden Globe.

    Over the course of her more than 60-year-long career, Carroll appeared in nearly 60 movies and television shows, including "Porgy and Bess," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Claudine," according to IMDb.

    She won a Tony Award for Best Actress in 1962 for her performance in "No Strings," making her the first African-American woman to claim the accolade. Five years later, she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series for "Julia."

    Her other notable roles include her portrayal from 1984 to 1987 of Dominique Deveraux on ABC's "Dynasty" and its spinoff, "The Colbys."

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