Actress-singer Diahann Carrol, a pioneer for black women on television, died of cancer Friday at her Los Angeles home at the age of 84.
Carroll had battled breast cancer for many years. In 1998, she had surgery to remove a small cancerous growth, which had been detected during a routine annual medical examination. The growth was removed and she underwent six weeks of radiation treatment. As a breast cancer survivor, Carroll became an activist, encouraging women to receive annual checkups.
“Although it has been said many times, I want to alert every woman in the world that the best weapon against breast cancer is early detection,” she said at the time. “Annual checkups can save your life!”
The Bronx-born performer is remembered for her groundbreaking role in “Julia,” which ran from 1968-71 and helped raise the visibility of black people on television. For her efforts, she earned a Golden Globe and received an Emmy nomination. She also starred on Broadway, in Hollywood musicals and as a Las Vegas nightclub performer.
Carroll also starred in “Porgy and Bess” and “Carmen,” and played Dominique Devereaux on TV’s “Dynasty” after she lobbied producer Aaron Spelling for the role, recalling for People magazine in a 1984 interview, “I want to be wealthy and ruthless … I want to be the first black bitch on television.”
In 1990, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
She was married four times and gave birth to one daughter.