Actress Diahann Carroll dies aged 84

4 October 2019, 20:02

Singer and actress Diahann Carroll died on Friday October 4
Singer and actress Diahann Carroll died on Friday October 4. Picture: Getty

By Sylvia DeLuca

Oscar-nominated actress and singer Diahann Carroll, who won critical acclaim as the first black woman to star in a non-servant role in a TV series, has died at the age of 84.

Diahann Carroll's daughter Susan Kay said her mother died of cancer on Friday in Los Angeles.

The pioneering actress starred in 1960s TV show Julia, the first US sitcom to centre on a black woman.

Her character of Julia was a widowed nurse and single mother whose husband had been killed in Vietnam

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

The series earned her an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe award.

Diahann Carroll played Julia Baker, a nurse whose husband had been killed in Vietnam
Diahann Carroll played Julia Baker, a nurse whose husband had been killed in Vietnam. Picture: PA

Diahann Carroll was also admired for her subsequent performance as the wealthy and cultured Dominique Deveraux in the 1980s ABC primetime soap opera "Dynasty."

She appeared often in plays previously considered exclusive territory for white actresses: 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.

She suffered racism both in Hollywood and as on stage as a singer.

In her autobiography, she detailed a concert when the orchestra conductor told her the audience didn't want to hear a black person sing.

She confronted him, called the police and eventually had the man removed from the show.

Diahann Carroll's 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 binman played by James Earl Jones.

Her last credited role was as Miss Edna in the 2016 film "The Masked Saint."

Diahann Carroll speaking at the 2007 Crystal and Lucy Awards in Beverly Hills, California
Diahann Carroll speaking at the 2007 Crystal and Lucy Awards in Beverly Hills, California. Picture: PA

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,” she said.

She was married four times, and was engaged to the British broadcaster David Frost - which she described as "one of the best things that ever happened to me".

Diahann Carroll is survived by her daughter and her grandchildren, August and Sydney.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Fifth Tory investigated in growing betting scandal - as cabinet minister claims he won £2,100

Fifth Tory investigated in growing betting scandal - as cabinet minister claims he won £2,100

England fans have packed out pubs and bars across the country ahead of a clash with Slovenia in Euro 2024.

England fans pack out pubs and bars ahead of Euros clash with Slovenia

Four men have been arrested at the Prime Minister's North Yorkshire home on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

Four men arrested at Rishi Sunak’s North Yorkshire home on suspicion of aggravated trespass

Sir Ed Davey says Putin apologists 'need to be exposed' as he takes aim at former coalition government

Ed Davey says Putin apologists 'need to be exposed' as he takes aim at former coalition government

Ed Davey has said that it 'genuinely' hasn't crossed his mind that he might be the future leader of the opposition.

Ed Davey tells LBC he doesn’t see himself as future leader of opposition as he says focus is on ‘beating Tory MPs’

Labour candidate Kevin Craig is running to become an MP in the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

Labour candidate suspended for betting against himself says he did it for 'fun' as he issues apology

The teenager's account was 'accessed and active', a friend of Jay reportedly said.

Jay Slater’s Instagram account ‘mysteriously active’ amid ongoing search for missing teenager in Tenerife

Labour candidate Kevin Craig is running to become an MP in the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

Labour candidate suspended for 'betting against himself' as Gambling Commission launches probe

Celine Dion's diagnosis was featured as part of Amazon Prime series I Am Celine Dion. Images Courtesy of Amazon MGM Studios © Amazon Content Services LLC

Céline Dion shares harrowing footage of ten minute 'crisis' seizure following Stiff Person's Syndrome diagnosis

David Larkin was found while police searched for Jay Slater.

Pictured: British hiker, 51, who was 'rescued' during search for missing Jay Slater as he insists he 'didn't need help'

Exclusive
A busy hospital with staff busy at work in an accident and emergency ward in a British hospital

'Cut-price doctor' physician associates and anaesthesia associates acting illegally in one in eight NHS trusts

Sir Keir Starmer has made it his ‘moral mission’ to reduce knife crime

Keir Starmer pledges to ban zombie knives within six months of Labour government

Gavin Plumb is accused of plotting to murder Holly Willoughby

Security guard accused of Holly Willoughby murder plot said he would 'make TV star let him do what he pleased'

Craig Williams said he 'committed an error of judgement, not an offence'. He was dumped by Rishi Sunak along with Laura Saunders (inset)

Candidate at centre of the General Election betting scandal breaks silence after being dropped by Tories

Hungary's Barnabas Varga pictured for the first time after suffering horror head injury against Scotland

Hungary's Barnabas Varga pictured for the first time after suffering horror head injury against Scotland

Govia Thameslink Railway has put the bins in almost 500 men's toilets

Train firm puts sanitary bins in men’s lavatories to combat 'taboo' of incontinence