On this day in 2019 Oscar nominated American actress and singer Diahann Carroll died from breast cancer aged 84.
Born in the Bronx New York , Diahann did well academically and went on to study sociology at University. She left before she graduated to pursue a career in showbusiness but promised her father if she wasn't successful within two years she would return to University and complete her final year and graduate.
Already doing modelling work as a teenager, her appetite for showbiz lead her to try her hand at entering television contests as a short cut ladder to getting her big break . In 1954 ,an impressive rendition of Oscar Hammerstein/Jerome Kerns song why was I born on the tv talent contest show Chance of a lifetime hosted by Dennis James proved to be the breakthrough she needed.
Lucrative nightclub gigs and a debut supporting role in Hollywood movie Carmen Jones -starring alongside the likes of Dorothy Dandridge and DeathList alumni Harry Belafonte swiftly followed.
A combination of steady acting work in film, television and stage work followed over the years Whilst never what could be called an A Lister nevertheless Carroll has a huge list of acting credits to her name for over 4 decades. Long term unemployment was a stranger to her it seems.
Oscar nominated for Claudine (1974) were she starred alongside James Earl Jones, other film credits include crime drama The Split (1968), musical Porgy and Bess (1959), Samuel L Jackson directed movie Eve's Bayou (1997) and Sister Sistee (1982) with Irene Cara.
Diahanns television credits were much more extensive, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Judy Garland Show, The Dick Cavett Show,
police drama Naked City(1962), Peter Gunn(1960), Burkes Law, The Love Boat, late 80s early 90s sitcom A Different World, Greys anatomy, numerous made for TV movies and last but not least the formidable half sister of Blake Carrington in Dynasty and The Colbys (1984-1987) were she clashed regularly and brilliantly with Blakes ex wife Alexis played by her good friend offscreen Joan Collins .
In her personal life Carroll was married 4 times.
Firstly to record producer Monte Kay in 1956. They had one daughter together but the marriage barely lasted six years.
Secondly to Las Vegas boutique owner Fred Glusman. The marriage lasted only four months with unconfirmed rumours he was physically abusive to her. The marriage however was a surprise to many in the media and was suspected to be an ill advised rebound relationship after her nearly three year relationship with British television presenter David Frost ended earlier that year.
Age 39 and her third marriage was in 1975 to 24 year old managing editor of Jet magazine Robert DeLeon. Sadly after less than 2 years of marriage Robert died in a car crash.
Diahanns fourth and final marriage was to american singer Vic Damone in 1987. They legally separated in 1991 after what she called a turbulent relationship.
Random facts - From 1959 Diahann had a nine year affair with recently deceased DeathList alumni Sidney Poitier which resulted in contested tales of the relationship years later .Diahann claimed Sidney persuaded her to divorce her husband by promising he would leave his wife to be with her. He bottled it and never kept his part of the bargain according to Diahann where as Sidney, who did eventually divorce his first wife but not to be with Diahann, says the arrangement broke down because he wanted to live with Diahann for six months before they married as he didn't want to be seen publicly jumping straight from one marriage to another.
Also rumour has it when Joan Collins episode appearances were planned to be cut down in Dynasty , partly because her appearance fee was high and the Network was being more cautious and cost saving especially as the shows ratings were well down and because Joan felt her character was becoming repetitive and she wanted to partially step aside so the character wasn't burnt out, Diahann Carrolls character Dominique Devereux was penciled in to return for the 1978 /1990 season to fill the superbitch void but alas it wasn't to be as the show was axed.
In her career especially the early years in theatre and television contests etc Diahann was considered to a trailblazer as the first African American woman to be cast or achieve in some of her particular fields.