(CelebrityAccess) — Diahann Carroll, the groundbreaking Oscar-nominated actor who was the first to break through the color barrier on network television, died on Friday after a battle with cancer. She was 84.
Carroll’s passing was announced by her daughter Suzanne Kay.
“Carroll was a consummate entertainer and beloved icon whose career spanned nearly seven decades,” Kay, said in a statement. “She paved the way for many and never allowed anyone to limit or define her.”
Carroll, who was born and raised in New York, had her first big break on television when she was just 18, appearing as a contestant on the televised talent show “Chance of a Lifetime” and winning $1,000 for her performance of the songbook classic “Why Was I Born?”
She parlayed the success of her appearance into regular performance gigs around New York and eventually Broadway and the silver screen, where she made her film debut in “Carmen Jones” in 1954.
In 1962, she became the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Barbara Woodruff in the musical “No Strings.”
Carroll is perhaps best known for her titular role in the long-running television series “Julia” in which she was the first African-American actor to play a major role that was not a servant on network television.
“There was nothing like this young successful mother on the air,” Carroll told PBS in an interview. “And we thought that it might be a very good stepping stone.”
In 1984, Carroll took another high profile role, joining the cast of the nighttime soap opera “Dynasty” where she appeared as Dominique Deveraux, half-sister of Blake Carrington.
Carroll is survived by her daughter, Kay, and grandchildren, August and Sydney.