Diahann Carroll, an actress known for breaking down barriers on both the stage and the small screen, has died at 84. She is widely known for starring in NBC’s Julia from 1968-1971, which is considered the first sitcom to star a black woman in a role that was not a stereotype. On the series, Carroll played Julia Baker, a widowed nurse trying to raise her son after her husband was killed in the Vietnam War. On the strength of her performance, she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress/TV in 1968. Her death came from breast cancer, something she had beaten previously after a 1997 diagnosis.
Before becoming a household name on primetime television, Carroll made a name for herself as a singer, film star, and broadway actress. Her early filmography includes titles like Porgy and Bess and Paris Blues. In 1962, she became the first black woman to win a Tony Award for her performance in the musical No Strings. After the conclusion of Julia‘s run, Carroll starred in Claudine as a struggling mother of six in harlem who falls for a garbage collector. She earned an Oscar nomination for the performance.
Following a number of television appearances in shows like Roots: The Next Generation and The Love Boat, Carroll landed a prominent role as Dominique Deveraux on ABC’s soap opera Dynasty in 1984. She continue in the role for the show’s spinoff, The Colbys, in 1985.
In recent years, Carroll has appeared in series like Grey’s Anatomy and USA’s White Collar, scoring an Emmy nomination for the former. She was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2011.
Multiple figures in the entertainment industry have come forward to express their grief and pay tribute to the late actress. Carroll’s close friend Dionne Warwick said in a statement, “Losing my dear friend and Mentor comes as a true hurt to my heart!!”
My dear friend and mentor, Diahann Carroll. A groundbreaking talent.🕊 pic.twitter.com/h5eHHpJWsA
— Dionne Warwick (@_DionneWarwick) October 4, 2019
Orpah Winfrey also paid tribute, stating, “Thanks for helping clear the path for me and so many others. I was honored to salute you as a Legend then, now and Forever.” Filmmaker Ava DuVernay took to twitter to say that Carroll “walked this earth for 84 years and broke ground with every footstep.”
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) October 4, 2019
Carroll is survived by her daughter, journalist Suzanne Kay, and two granddaughters.