Just about everyone knows Diahann Carroll, right? The African American actress who played Corey Baker's mom in the groundbreaking '60's television series Julia? Since that time Ms. Carroll has played quite a few other memorable tv "mom roles," among them Whitley's mom in A Different World and Preston Burke's mom in Grey's Anatomy. One of my favorite Diahann Carroll "mom roles" took place on the big screen when she played opposite James Earl Jones, in the '70s movie classic, Claudine. Surprising enough, the beautiful and talented Ms. Carroll also managed to pull off playing a b!tch, as Dominique Deveraux in the '80s tv series Dynasty.
I'm more than mid-way through Diahann Carroll's new memoir, The Legs Are The Last To Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying and Other Things I Learned The Hard Way, and I thought it might be both fun and somewhat englighting to share some of what I've discovered about her from my reading.
1) She's 73 years old.
2) She was born Carol Diann Johnson.
3) She considered giving the following title to her latest book--Too Old To Give A Damn: Things I Never Could Have Said While Working In Hollywood.
4) She was 19 when she starred in her first movie, Carmen Jones (she played one of Carmen's sidekicks).
5) Her first marriage was to Monte Kay, a man 17 years her senior and whose dark coloring and curly hair initially led Ms. Carroll to assume that he was African American, rather than Jewish.
6) Hal Kanter, the creator of Julia, wasn't sure Ms. Carroll was right for the role. He thought her a bit too worldly and glamorous.
7) She had a tumultuous 9 year affair with Sidney Poitier, which helped wreck her marriage to Monte Kay.
8) She admits to having had plastic surgery.
9) She admits to having undergone "medically guided" LSD therapy."
10) She lip-syched "Summertime" in the movie version of Porgy and Bess and while she loved the music in the movie, she despised its portrayal of African Americans.
11) She was once engaged to David Frost.
12) She was married to Vic Damone for 10 years.
13) In this book, Ms. Carroll comes off as very much "the diva" and a bit of a drama queen, but one with a truly wonderful sense of humor and grace about herself and her less than perfect past.
While I'm not yet finished with The Legs are The Last To Go, I'm already eager to go back and read the book Diahann Carroll penned in the '80s about her life, if ony to see what I missed (smile). Did you discover anything about Ms. Carroll that you didn't already know. Do you know anything about Ms. Carroll that you'd like to share?