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Diahann Carroll

Diahann Carroll

Diahann Carroll is undeniably the consummate entertainer. So varied and dynamic are her gifts that she continually astounds fans and critics alike with her versatility and magnetism.

She is one of America‘s major performing talents from nightclubs to the Broadway stage; a Las Vegas headliner and from Motion Pictures to Television, Diahann Carroll is a Tony Award winner, an Emmy and Grammy nominee, a Golden Globe winner and a Best Actress Oscar nominee.

She co-starred with Natalie Cole in the NBC TV two hour movie, Living for Love: The Natalie Cole Story, playing Natalie's mother in this top rated biopic and also co-starred with Marisa Tomei in the award winning and controversial play The Vagina Monologues in New York's off Broadway Westside Theatre for a very successful engagement.

Last year she completed a cross-country sell out concert tour starring in "Almost Like Being in Love -The Lerner & Loewe Songbook," underlying the fact that this legendary performer remains a top box office draw. In April 1999 she starred in the CBS TV movie, Having Our Say, based on the Tony award winning Broadway play about the formidable Delany sisters. Portraying the role of Sadie Delany, and aging up to 107 years old, Miss Carroll received the most outstanding reviews with the movie reaching #4 in the overall TV week's ratings. She starred in Lifetime's original movie The Courage to Love, with Venessa Williams and Stacy Keach, an epic drama set in pre-civil war south and she also starred in the CBS mini-series Sally Hemmings: An American Scandal, which received enormous ratings and critical praise.

She made impact on the screen in the Tri-Star film Eve‘s Bayou, co-starring with Samuel L. Jackson, which was the highest grossing independent film of 1997.

She has recorded a new album on the Sterling Records Label, The Time of My Life, which includes many Broadway showstoppers. She also starred in a movie for Showtime, The Sweetest Gift, which aired in February of 1998 as a Family Special, receiving yet another Emmy nomination for her.

In October of 1995 she returned to the stage to star as Norma Desmond in the Toronto premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's international hit spectacle Sunset Boulevard at the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts, staged by director Trevor Nunn and the show‘s entire original creative team. Norma Desmond is one of the most glamorous characters ever created for the musical stage and the producers of this extremely profitable production have said, "after seeing so much superb talent throughout America and Europe, we were thrilled to sign Diahann Carroll who gave our audiences a bold and exciting performance.

Hailed by the press as the ultimate Norma Desmond, Diahann Carroll in Sunset Boulevard" played to sell-out crowds and her Canadian Cast Recording outsold all other recordings of the show.

In 1984 Diahann Carroll became the first black actress in a continuing starring role in the award winning nighttime phenomenon Dynasty, which is still in syndication all around the world.

In 1989 she was nominated for an Emmy Award for the successful NBC TV series A Different World, as outstanding actress in a comedy series.

Her television nominations go back to 1963 for outstanding single performance by an actress in a leading role for the series Naked City. In 1968, Diahann Carroll became the first black actress in television history to star in her own series, Julia, for NBC, which soared to the top of the Nielsen ratings and received an Emmy nomination in its first year on the air, for best actress starring in a comedy.

Her film work includes Claudine, for which she received a 1974 Best Actress Academy Award nomination, co-starring with James Earl Jones. She also appeared in Robert Townsend‘s 1993 feature The Five Heartbeats, a provocative film about the rise and fall of a black singing group set in the sixties. Other film credits include Paris Blues co-starring Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier, Carmen Jones, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Hurry Sundown, The Split and Porgy & Bess.

Diahann made her Broadway stage debut starring in Harold Arlen and Truman Capote‘s House of Flowers. After seeing her in this production Richard Rodgers created the Broadway production No Strings as a starring vehicle for Miss Carroll, for which she won the Tony Award.

In 1982, Diahann Carroll received national critical acclaim in the controversial NBC drama Sister, Sister, written by poet and educator Maya Angelou. The New York Times cited her work as superb and the New York Daily News wrote, "Diahann Carroll gave one of the best performances of her career; her performance is a deep, sensitive, riveting portrayal."

She returned to Broadway in 1983, adding yet another distinction to her illustrious career, becoming the first black actress to replace a white actress (Elizabeth Ashley) in Agnes of God. In 1990 she co-starred with Paul Winfield in the Los Angeles production of Love Letters, again breaking box office records.

Throughout her lifetime she has given generously of her time in support of civic and humanitarian concerns. In 1992, Miss Carroll received the Women in Film Crystal Award for her excellence in work and for the accomplishment and contributions she has made to the advancement of women in the entertainment industry. Other recipients that year were Barbra Streisand, Maya Angelou and Lily Tomlin.

In June 1992 the NAACP Defense and Education Fund awarded Miss Carroll the Black Women of Achievement Award for her work and charitable activities.

Another of the highlights of Miss Carroll‘s incredible career was when she was presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

In July of 1992 Diahann Carroll joined an all-star women‘s chorus including Barbra Streisand, Melissa Manchester, Judy Collins, Goldie Hawn and Dionne Warwick on stage in the premiere performance of Common Threads, a song written by Marilyn and Alan Bergman and Marvin Hamlisch for the Hollywood Women‘s Political Committee to honor the nine Democratic women challengers for the United States Senate. This auspicious gathering set the tone for yet another first in Diahann Carroll‘s celebrated career.

In 1996 Ms. Carroll and Dr. David Ho were honored by Project Inform for their outstanding contributions in the battle against HIV and AIDS.

Twice named on the International Best Dressed List, she has now formed her own successful merchandising fashion company including handbags, hosiery, costume jewelry and accessories. The Diahann Carroll Fashion Line sells successfully on QVC as well as in specialized stores around the country.

She is an award winning actress, a successful entrepreneur, a devoted humanitarian... indeed Diahann Carroll is a legend.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Diahann Carroll Facts

Birth NameCarol Diahann Johnson
BirthdayJuly 17, 1935 (87)
BirthplaceBronx, New York, USA

Selected Filmography

The Kill
The Five Heartbeats
Tyler Perry Presents Peeples
Eve's Bayou
Carmen Jones
Sally Hemings An American Love Story
Hurry Sundown
The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years
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