Since there are so many facets of the history that people of African descent have made in this country, I’ve decided to continue my “Black History 365″ series from my poetry blog here on my AfrocentriqueAZ blog. I’ll be posting a new “First Black” every day this month and every Wednesday for the months after that.
In honor of WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH all March the articles will all be about first Black WOMEN… Today’s is Diahann Carroll
Diahann Carroll ( born July 17, 1935) is an American television and stage actress and singer. She has had a long, successful career that has spanned nearly six decades.
After appearing in some of the earliest major studio films to feature black casts such as Carmen Jones (1954) and Porgy and Bess (1959), she starred in Julia (1968), one of the first series on American television to star a black woman in a non-stereotypical role. Later she created the role of Dominique Deveraux on the popular prime time soap opera, Dynasty.
She is the recipient of numerous stage and screen awards and nominations. Carroll has been married four times and became the mother of a daughter in 1960. She is a breast cancer survivor and activist.
At the age of 18, Carroll got her big break when she appeared as a contestant on the Dumont Television Network program, Chance of a Lifetime, Hosted by Dennis James. On the show which aired Friday, January 8, 1954, Carroll took the $1,000 top prize on the strength of her rendition of the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein song, “Why Was I Born?” She went on to win the following four weeks. Engagements at Manhattan‘s Café Society and Latin Quarter nightclubs soon followed.
Carroll’s film debut was a supporting role in Carmen Jones (1954) as a friend of the sultry lead character. She then starred in the Broadway musical, House of Flowers. In 1959, she played Clara in the film version of Gershwin‘s Porgy and Bess, but her character’s singing parts were dubbed by opera singer Loulie Jean Norman. She made a guest star appearance in the series Peter Gunn, in the episode “Sing a Song of Murder” in 1960. She starred with Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in the 1961 film Paris Blues. In 1962, she won the Tony Award for best actress (a first for a black woman) for the role of Barbara Woodruff in the Samuel A. Taylor and Richard Rodgers musical No Strings. In 1974, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Claudine.