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Diahann Carroll: Lioness of film, music, stage

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Few people intimately know the historical treasure that is Diahann Carroll, singer, actress, activist, pioneer. Carroll, born in New York City, was the first African American to get their own show on national television. And she didn't play a maid, or subservient character either.
From 1968 to 1970, "Julia" was a groundbreaking comedy in its own right, although the social atmosphere of the time left it exposed to ridicule by the black community because of its lack of a father-figure (Carroll's heroin in the sitcom was widowed), and the show being too lighthearted during a time of social and civic change in America.
In 1974, she was the first African American actress to win a Tony for her part in "No Strings."
Her best role though -- again as a single mother (opposite James Earl Jones) -- was as "Claudine" a film which garnered her an Academy Award nomination for best actress. "Claudine" -- a powerful tale that resisted the blaxploitaton content of the era -- has the distinction of having had one of the baddest soundtracks in the history of black films, with soulful Curtis Mayfield writing the film's score and soundtrack with vocals from the venerable Gladys Knight.
In recent years Carroll has been lured back to the small screen for roles on "Grey's Anatomy" and other small parts.
She is what the entertainment cubs of today -- Rihanna, Kerry Washington, Janet Jackson, Beyonce -- should strive to be, a legend.




2009 ·Popwife Blog by TNB