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BlackFacts Details

Diahann Carroll

Diahann Carroll is a notable African-American television and stage actress and singer. Her successful career spanned for over six decades. She appeared in all black cast films such as Carmen Jones (1954) and Porgy and Bess (1959). Moreover, she also starred in the first Broadway play, Julia, to feature black woman in a non-stereotypical role. In 1974, she was nominated for the prestigious Academy Award for Best Actress for her astounding performance in Claudine.

Carol Diahann Johnson was born on July 17, 1935 to John Johnson and Mabel, in the Bronx, New York. During her infancy, the family moved to Harlem. She was sent to Music & Art High School for dance and music, which her parents openly supported. At the age of 15, she did a modeling stint for Ebony magazine. Upon her graduation, she went on to New York University to major in sociology. She finally got a big career break when she was landed a spot on Dumont Television Network program, Chance of a Lifetime as a contestant. Carroll won thousand dollars top prize for her rendition of Jerome Kern’s single “Why Was I Born?”. Afterwards, she began to perform at nightclubs and cafes, including Manhattan’s Café Society and Latin Quarter clubs.

In 1954, she made her debut in Carmen Jones, playing a supporting character to the lead. The same year she appeared in a Broadway play, House of Flowers. The film adaptation of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess starred Carroll but her voice was dubbed by an opera singer. In 1961, she was casted alongside with Sidney Poitier, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman in film Paris Blues. The following year she was awarded the Tony Award for playing the character of Barbara Woodruff in the Samuel A. Taylor’s musical, No Strings. This made her the first black woman to win the Tony Award. Besides, she worked on television as well and was recognized for her popular central role in Julia. Once again, she became the first African American actress to play the lead that did not involve being a domestic help.

Diahann Carroll’s work on television