It’s with a heavy heart that I report pioneering and legendary actress Diahann Carroll has passed away.
She was 84.
Diahann passed away on Friday (October 4) after a long battle with cancer, according to her daughter, producer-journalist Suzanne Kay.
Via ABC News:
During her long career, Carroll earned a Tony Award for the musical “No Strings” and an Academy Award nomination for best actress for “Claudine.”
But she was perhaps best known for her pioneering work on “Julia.” Carroll played Julia Baker, a nurse whose husband had been killed in Vietnam, in the groundbreaking situation comedy that aired from 1968 to 1971.
“Diahann Carroll walked this earth for 84 years and broke ground with every footstep. An icon. One of the all-time greats,” director Ava DuVernay wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Although she was not the first black woman to star in her own TV show (Ethel Waters played a maid in the 1950s series “Beulah”), she was the first to star as someone other than a servant.
NBC executives were wary about putting “Julia” on the network during the racial unrest of the 1960s, but it was an immediate hit.
It had its critics, though, including some who said Carroll’s character, who is the mother of a young son, was not a realistic portrayal of a black American woman in the 1960s.
“They said it was a fantasy,” Carroll recalled in 1998. “All of this was untrue. Much about the character of Julia I took from my own life, my family.”
I extend my sincerest condolences to the Carroll family and all who loved Ms. Diahann.
Rest in paradise, queen.