Sidney Poitier, Ava DuVernay, Kerry Washington, and other celebrities are remembering Diahann Carroll, the groundbreaking star of stage and screen after her daughter announced her death after a long battle with cancer Friday. The “Julia” and “Dynasty” star was the first African American woman to star in a non-servant role in a network television series. She was 84.
In a statement, Sidney Poitier — who co-starred with Carroll in “Paris Blues” — described her as a “talented, beautiful and courageous spirit from which a remarkable and lasting friendship prevailed through the years.”
DuVernay, who directed the Netflix miniseries “When They See Us,” shared her admiration for Carroll in a tweet Friday.
“Diahann Carroll walked this earth for 84 years and broke ground with every footstep. An icon. One of the all-time greats. She blazed trails through dense forests and elegantly left diamonds along the path for the rest of us to follow. Extraordinary life. Thank you, Ms. Carroll,” DuVernay tweeted Friday.
Kerry Washington, whose codename on “Scandal” was named after Carroll’s sitcom character Julia Baker, tweeted, “I love you for eternity. With all my heart. I am because of you.” Washington brought Carroll on stage with her during the 2013 Emmy Awards.
Added “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes: “The power and impact of Diahann Carroll is immeasurable. As the first, she escorted the tv drama into the 20th century. Her Julia Baker is queen mother to Olivia Pope’s existence. Her Dominque Devereux is fairy godmother to Olivia’s fierce style. Because of her, I could. Writing her as Preston Burke’s mother was the honor of a lifetime. Knowing her was everything. A hero has gone to glory.”
“Diahann Carroll was a luminous, extraordinary, performer, and an even more beautiful human being. I’ll treasure memories of shared laughter, and of her incredible artistry. Farewell, beautiful Diahann,” said Mitzi Gaynor, the actress, singer and dancer known for “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” in a tweet Friday.
“The champagne won’t be burnt in Heaven. RIP, Diahann Carroll,” said journalist and TV personality Jonathan Capehart, referring to Carroll’s famous line as Dominique Deveraux in the ABC soap opera “Dynasty.”
Al Roker also took to Twitter Friday to remember Carroll. “Tony & Golden Globe award winning, Oscar & Emmy nominated pioneering actress Diahann Carroll has passed at 84. It was an honor to get to meet and talk with her. Her show, JULIA, made tv history with her at the helm,” he tweeted.
Vanessa Williams paid tribute on Instagram. “My heart is broken after hearing about the legendary #diahanncarroll ‘s passing. I was honored to have her play my mother in the @lifetimetv movie #thecouragetolove Ms. Carroll paved the way for so many black actresses in so many different genres,” the actress/singer posted, along with a photo from the movie. “Broadway (No Strings, House of Flowers, Sunset Boulevard) TV (Julia, Dynasty) Film (Claudine) plus many many more. She was a mentor, trailblazer and dynamic talent that single-handed integrated the Union by demanding to have a black hairdresser do her hair on her groundbreaking show “Julia”. My deepest condolences go out to her family and all that adored her.
Viola Davis also posted a heartfelt message on Instagram. “My greatest blessing is that I had the honor to connect with you on a personal level. You shared your humor, your mess, your mistakes, your talent….You were authentic. As a woman and actress of color that will be your legacy. You left it all on the floor and we were shifted by it. Rest well Queen #DiahannCarroll. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest,” it read.
Film director Matthew A. Cherry wrote, “Rest In Peace Diahann Carroll.”
“Diahann Carroll you taught us so much. We are stronger, more beautiful and risk takers because of you. We will forever sing your praises and speak your name,” tweeted “Fame” actress Debbie Allen.
“I once met the legendary Diahann Carroll at a luncheon in Toronto. I told her that when she starred in Julia, people used to say my mother looked like her. Without blinking an eye, she said “Was she very beautiful?” Ms Carroll was a Goddess,” tweeted “Desperate Housewives” actress Dana Delany.
“21 Jump Street” actress Holly Robinson Peete tweeted, “This one cuts deeply. My mom & Ms Diahann were friends since they were 14. She was a pioneer on so many levels. She made me believe I could be on television! I loved & cherished and idolized her like a daughter.”
Taraji P. Henson echoed the sentiments, tweeting, “#RIPDiahannCarroll thank you for paving the way!!! It was an honor to know you Queen!!! Your legacy will live on through us all!!!”
The NAACP added, “Rest In Power to legendary actress #DiahannCarroll.”