Diahann Carroll, Trailblazing ‘Julia’ and ‘Claudine’ Actress, Dies at 84

Diahann Carroll, an iconic actress who broke barriers with roles on the television series Julia and Dynasty has died. She was 84.

Carroll passed away Friday in Los Angeles after battling cancer, her daughter Susan Kay told The Associated Press.

The Bronx native earned a page in Hollywood history when she became the first black woman to star in a non-servant role, with her turn on the TV series Julia. Carroll played Julia Baker, a nurse whose husband was killed in Vietnam on the groundbreaking NBC sitcom. The show ran from 1968 to 1971, and earned the actress an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe Award.

During her decades-long career, she earned a Tony Award for the musical “No Strings” and an Academy Award nomination for Claudine.

Carroll starred in the 1974 film as a single mother of six trying to support her family with welfare benefits and side jobs. The actress, who was known for her beauty, said in previous interviews that director John Berry thought she was too glamorous to play a welfare mom struggling to find love.

Despite Berry’s concerns, Carroll won an NAACP Image Award for her performance and picked up a best actress Oscar nomination. James Earl Jones and Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs co-starred in the film, which also received two Golden Globe nominations.

Carroll was born on July 17, 1935. As a teenager, her striking good looks landed her work as a model for Ebony magazine. She attended the High School for the Performing Arts and New York University.

Carroll  dropped out of college to become a performer. After traveling to Los Angeles, she landed a supporting role as Myrt in the 1954 film Carmen Jones opposite Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte.

Her other notable films included Porgy and Bess (1959), Paris Blues (1961), Hurry Sundown (1967), and The Split (1968).

In the 1980s, Carroll appeared on Dynasty and brought diversity to the popular ABC primetime soap opera as mixed-race diva Dominique Deveraux, the half-sister of Blake Carrington.

More recently, she had a number of guest roles on TV series, including Soul Food, Grey’s Anatomy, and White Collar.