'Dynasty' actress Diahann Carroll (84) dies

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Diahann Carroll, who pioneered television with her starring role in the 1968 series Julia, died Friday, her daughter Suzanne Kay confirmed to CNN.

"Cancer does not have to be a death sentence", she said.

In the 1980s, she portrayed the role of Dominique Deveraux on the primetime soap opera Dynasty.

Carroll thus became the first African American female to star in a non-stereotypical role in her own primetime network series.

The actress characterized by svelte cosmopolitan sophistication had come to television via the musical theatre.

"She had been fighting it for quite some time, and did not want the world to know", said Panella who had managed her career for 20 years. That same year, she starred in the classic film Carmen Jones alongside Dorothy Dandridge. There was something of me in Dominique, she was a career woman with a daughter and they didn't get along that well.

She appeared often in plays previously considered exclusive territory for white actors: Same Time, Next Year, Agnes of God and Sunset Boulevard (as faded star Norma Desmond, the role played by Gloria Swanson in the 1950 film). It would be followed by a role in the 1959 film version of Porgy and Bess.

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She also appeared on "Grey's Anatomy" in 2006. She acted in TV dramas including Peter Gunn and Naked City.

"Diahann Carroll you taught us so much", wrote Debbie Allen, who directed the actress in her recurring role as Whitley Gilbert's mother on "A Different World". It is thanks to Carroll's appearance that the character is as scary, memorable, and amusing as she is. That turned out to be No Strings, the 1962 musical about an interracial romance between a writer and a fashion model.

They paired up on Garland's weekly prime-time show 55 years ago to sing a duet of Harold Arlen and Richard Rodgers songs.

"Actress and media mogul Oprah Winfrey was another star to thank Carroll for clearing the path, adding she is a Legend then, now and Forever". "If I hadn't become an entertainer, I would have had to make some noise in some other arena". Premiering at the height of the civil rights struggle, Julia, with its decidedly apolitical, middle class heroine, was attacked by militants for being too lenient to the white community. We miss her so much already.

"We were saying to the country, 'We're going to present a very upper middle-class black woman raising her child, and her major concentration is not going to be about suffering in the ghetto, ' " Carroll noted. Elegant and sophisticated, she looks like a attractive bird in her Aghayan/Mackie creation in a setting that does not look unlike an illuminated birdcage.

At the age of 16, she adopted the name Diahann Carroll and won an audition for the Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts television show.

After she was treated for breast cancer in 1998, she spoke out for more money for research and for free screening for women who couldn't afford mammograms. One of her rewards was a regular engagement to perform at the famed Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan. The run was expanded to four weeks and succeeded by other nightclub appearances. Carroll also has two grandchildren August and Sydney.

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