Diahann Carroll was one of the entertainment industry’s last great glass ceiling-smashers: the first African-American with her own sitcom (Julia), the first African-American woman to win an Emmy and a groundbreaker as Dominique Deveraux in 80s shoulderpad-fest Dynasty.
A performer from a young age, she first paid the bills as a model and regular in Ebony magazine. Handpicked by Truman Capote, she broke through on to the stage in his musical House of Flowers. A series of roles in well-meaning, if preachy, racial dramas (Paris Blues, Hurry Sundown) followed, before arguably her finest hour: 1974’s Claudine, a landmark romantic comedy for which she won an Oscar nomination.
However, Hollywood wasn’t the best environment for a black woman of advancing years back then, and it wasn’t until her role as “TV’s first black bitch” Deveraux in the 80s that she made her way back to the limelight, and immortality in the world of drag queen impersonations.