Diahann Carroll, Groundbreaking Television And Broadway Star, Dead At 84

Carroll at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles

Already a popular stage and nightclub performer when she signed on to star in Julia, Carroll is credited with being the first African-American actress to lead a primetime series in a non-stereotypical role, and the first overall since Beulah, the 1950s sitcom about a maid. She altered her hairstyle and mastered the pilot script, quickly convincing him that she was the right woman.

Hollywood is remembering trailblazing "icon" Diahann Carroll.

"However Julia is presented, she represents another and more realistic evolution purely because of the circumstances of her existence", Carroll told the magazine. She became the first black woman to win a best actress Tony for her role in No Strings.

As the sultry fashionista Dominique Deveraux - the first prominently featured African-American character on a primetime soap opera - Carroll played a much edgier character for three seasons on ABC's Dynasty and its spinoff The Colbys, delightfully dueling with fellow diva Alexis Carrington Colby (Joan Collins). Singing engagements at prominent NY nightclubs soon followed, along with her Broadway and film debuts that same year: Carroll starred in the musical House of Flowers and had a supporting role opposite Dorothy Dandridge in the film Carmen Jones. For her work Carroll picked up the Tony as best actress in a musical.

Actress and singer Diahann Carroll has died at the age of 84, her publicist has confirmed.

She was asked why she didn't make more films after Claudine. She took piano lessons regularly as a child and first began singing around age 6, as a member of the Tiny Tots choir in Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church.

In that same interview, Carroll was asked if she took the role knowing how many would see her as a role model. The very coupling of the name Jackie Onassis and Diahann Carroll is very interesting, if you think about it.

Carroll told PEOPLE she found the pioneer label to be a complicated but tremendous blessing, particularly with regard to Julia. Her other films included 'Goodbye Again, ' "Hurry Sundown, ' "Paris Blues, ' and 'The Split'". One of her rewards was a regular engagement to perform at the famed Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan.

At the end of 1954, she made her Broadway debut as the young star of the Truman Capote-Harold Arlen musical House of Flowers. In 1959 she played the role of Clara in a film adaptation of Porgy and Bess starring Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge.

But the show was controversial amid the racial unrest that followed the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"I've never played a role quite this unlikeable", she said. She also battled breast cancer.

Carroll was married four times, to talent manager and music producer Monte Kay, retailer Fred Glusman, editor Robert DeLeon and singer Vic Damone.

More recently, she had a number of guest shots and small roles in TV series, including playing the mother of Isaiah Washington's character, Dr. Preston Burke, on "Grey's Anatomy" and a stretch on the TV show "White Collar" as the widow June.

She was also famously partnered with David Frost. Carroll also has two grandchildren August and Sydney.

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