Sept. 17, 1968

Diahann Carroll and Sammy Davis Jr. on The Hollywood Palace, 1968. Credit: Wikipedia

Diahann Carroll starred in the title role in “Julia” — the first Black actress to star in a non-stereotypical role in her own television series. 

She grew up loving singing, dancing and performing in the theater, and she began modeling for Ebony magazine at 15. Three years later, she appeared on the TV show, “Chance of a Lifetime,” taking home the top prize for her performance of the song, “Why Was I Born?” That same year, she acted in the film, “Carmen Jones”, and appeared in the Broadway musical “House of Flowers”. 

In her TV show “Julia”, her performance garnered an Emmy nomination for her, and she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series. Mattel even created a Barbie in her image. 

After “Julia” ended, she returned to Broadway and Hollywood, earning an Academy Award nomination for her performance in the 1974 film “Claudine”. She went on to portray Dominique Deveraux in the primetime soap opera “Dynasty”. In 1996, she became the first African American to play the role of Norma Desmond in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “Sunset Boulevard”. 

Carroll devoted much of her time to the Celebrity Action Council, which works with women in rehabilitation from problems with drugs, alcohol or prostitution. Eight years before she died in 2019, she was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

More on this day


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.