Diahann Carroll: Pioneering actress dies aged 84

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Diahann CarrollImage source, Getty Images

US actress Diahann Carroll, who won Golden Globe and Tony awards and was nominated for an Oscar, has died.

Carroll, who was 84, starred in 1960s TV show Julia, the first US sitcom to centre on a black woman.

She was also the first black woman to win the Tony for best actress in 1962, for Broadway musical No Strings. She went on to be nominated for an Oscar for best actress in 1975 for Claudine.

In the 1980s, she played the scheming Dominique Deveraux in TV hit Dynasty.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Pictured with her Dynasty co-star Linda Evans in 1984

She had been suffering from cancer and died at home in Los Angeles on Friday, her publicist said.

Born Carol Diann Johnson in Harlem, New York, in 1935, she was modelling by the age of 15 and was reportedly the model for one of the first black Barbie dolls.

At the age of 19, she won her first Hollywood role, appearing opposite Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones.

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Image caption,
She was engaged to British broadcaster David Frost in the early 1970s

She suffered racism both in Hollywood and as on stage as a singer. In her autobiography, she detailed a concert when the orchestra conductor told her the audience didn't want to hear a black person sing. She confronted him, called the police and eventually had the man removed from the show, she wrote.

Returning to the big screen, she starred in Porgy and Bess alongside Sidney Poitier, Sammy Davis Jr and Dandridge. Other film credits included 1961's Paris Blues with Paul Newman, and Hurry Sundown in 1967 with Michael Caine and Jane Fonda.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Diahann Carroll starred in the US sitcom Julia between 1968-1971

In the late 60s, Carroll played the title role in Julia - a nurse who was a Vietnam widow and single mother - and the role earned her a Golden Globe for best female TV star in 1969.

She said she saw the show as "a chance to say something else about the black community", adding: "I was amazed at the number of people who had no idea there was a black middle class."

Halle Berry and Angela Bassett are among the stars who have cited her as an inspiration for their careers.

Carroll was married four times, had a tempestuous affair with Sidney Poitier for nine years, and was engaged to the British broadcaster David Frost - which she described as "one of the best things that ever happened to me".

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