Diahann Carroll, Groundbreaking Star of ‘Julia’ and ‘Dynasty,’ Dies at 84

Tony Award-winning actress became first African American woman to star in a non-servant role on a network TV series

Last Updated: October 4, 2019 @ 10:42 AM

Diahann Carroll, the first African American woman to star in a non-servant role in a network television series, has died after losing a battle to cancer, her daughter Suzanne Kay told the Associated Press.

The Tony-winner and Oscar-nominee was 84.

Carroll is known for her role as Dominique Deveraux on the 1980s soap opera “Dynasty,” as well as for her title role as the middle-class single mother in NBC’s “Julia.” The latter, her first big television role, began airing in 1968 and ran until 1971. “Julia” is regarded as a trailblazer that lead to more visibility for African American characters on television.

Her more recent credits have included “White Collar,” “Diary of a Single Mom” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” But she started her career on a high note by winning a Tony award for best actress in a musical in the early 1960s for her starring role in Richard Rodgers’ “No Strings.”

Carroll was also the fourth African American actress to be nominated for best actress at the Oscars for the title role in 1974’s “Claudine,” starring opposite James Earl Jones. In 1960, she starred opposite Sidney Poitier in “Paris Blues.” Her earlier film roles include playing Clara in 1959’s “Porgy and Bess” and Myrt in 1954’s “Carmen Jones.”

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