Late Night Pop Culture Open Thread: RIP, Diahann Carroll

I only knew of Ms. Carroll as an icon of elegance, but she obviously was an inspiration to a great many people. May her image and her example continue to shine for future generations.

And next time someone complains that “we” haven’t made any progress in the last fifty years, look at this clip from her groundbreaking TV show and think of the 17 different ways such ‘snappy jests’ would no longer be acceptable outside of a very specialized audience:

57 replies
  1. 1
    moonbat says:

    One of the first dolls I remember owning as a child was a Julia doll in a nurse’s uniform. I thought she was the most smart, beautiful and accomplished person I had ever seen and that was as a little white kid from semi-rural Oklahoma. She was awesome.

  2. 2
    West of the Rockies says:

    She was my first TV crush. I was so young though, that I just wanted her to be my mom.

  3. 3
    rikyrah says:

    Written by Maya Angelou
    Starring Diahann Carroll, Rosalind Cash and Irene Cara

    SISTER, SISTER (1982)

  4. 4
    rikyrah says:

    I can’t even begin to explain what she meant to so many little Black girls. What the vision of her expanded how we saw ourselves as future Black women.

  5. 5
    Mary G says:

    I’m Oprah’s age, and she’s always talked about when the cry would sound through the neighborhood about “colored” people on TV, because it was so rare. By the time Julia came out, we were living in a white town with sundown laws, and my mother would nag everyone to watch it “so you can get over yourselves.” It didn’t work, but she tried.

  6. 6
    donnah says:

    I was ten years old when Julia came on, and I loved the show. I didn’t follow Ms Carroll’s career closely, but I was pleased to see her in the show White Collar five years ago. Always classy, always beautiful.

    Remember Earl J Waggedorn?

  7. 7
    Mary G says:

    Ava has talked about Diahann Carroll’s movie, “Claudine,” with a young James Earl Jones. Maybe one of the streaming services will pick it up.

  8. 8
    rikyrah says:

    She played two characters for which she was perfectly cast.

    Nobody could have played Whitley Gilbert’s mother on A Different World. When the casting was announced for Marion Gilbert, a.collective


    went out throughout the fandom.

    And, then , she was cast on Dynasty, as Dominique Devereaux….
    Man, loved her.

  9. 9
    rikyrah says:

    @Mary G:

    Just saw it on TCM a few weeks ago.

  10. 10
    Mary G says:

    In the 80s I worked in an office with a lot of diversity, and though I never watched it, everyone around the water cooler agreed about what a great character she played on Dynasty.

  11. 11
    rikyrah says:

    On A Different World, Marion Gilbert’s foil was played by none other than Patti LaBelle.

    One of their classic scenes😂

  12. 12
    Mary G says:

    @rikyrah: Cool, I’ll watch for it.

  13. 13
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Didn’t watch any of her shows or movies but always admired her ageless beauty and outspokenness. She always looked flawless. May she R.I.P.

  14. 14
    Amir Khalid says:

    I used to watch Julia as a 7-year-old kid. Living where I did, I wasn’t aware of the significance of her being the first black TV star who wasn’t playing a servant, but I was aware of how classy she and her character Julia were. Looking her up on Wikipedia, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she and I share a birthday: July 17.

    I also confirmed my recollection that she was once briefly engaged to Sir David Frost.

  15. 15
    Mary G says:

    She kept pioneering.


    With Dynasty in its fourth season, Diahann Carroll saw the success of prime time soap operas, and noted that while they had covered many issues like rape and homosexuality, they had yet to tackle racial integration.[1][2] She said at the time, “I want to be the first black bitch on television.”[1][3][4] Carroll had her manager reach out to Dynasty producer Aaron Spelling, but there had been no response before she and Spelling ran into each other soon after.[1][2] Barbra Streisand had asked Carroll to sing a song from Yentl at the Golden Globes ceremony, and afterwards Carroll and Spelling found themselves at the same nightclub.[1][2] He said, “When Diahann came in, [Dynasty co-creator] Esther Shapiro and I looked at her, looked at each other and said, ‘My God, she is Dynasty.'”[1][2] Carroll told Shapiro that night, “If it’s not me let it be someone, because it’s time.”[1] Spelling said,”We virtually closed the deal that night while having a drink at the bar.”[1]

    It goes on to say that she told them not to write for her, but as if she was a rich white man.

  16. 16
    rikyrah says:

    Marion thought that Whitley would live out her Black and Bougie dreams, with the wedding to Byron Douglas, III.

    Alas,it was not to be😂😂😂

  17. 17
  18. 18
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I can’t even begin to explain what she meant to so many little Black girls. What the vision of her expanded how we saw ourselves as future Black women.

    Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was four years old when Julia first went on the air, seven when the show’s run ended. She doesn’t mention it in her book, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Diahann Carroll was among her childhood idols.

  19. 19
    Mike in NC says:

    She was a very cool personage. RIP.

  20. 20
    rikyrah says:

    shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) Tweeted:
    The power and impact of Diahann Carroll is immeasurable. She escorted the tv drama into the 20th century. Her Julia Baker is queen mother to Olivia Pope’s existence. Her Dominque Devereux is fairy godmother to Olivia’s style. Because of her, I could. A hero has gone to glory.

  21. 21
    Steeplejack says:

    Can’t find it on YouTube, but Diahann Carroll did a luminous guest spot on Peter Gunn in 1960 where she played a jazz club singer hiding from her psycho husband. Got to do two songs, with the usual excellent musical production values of the series.

  22. 22
    HumboldtBlue says:


    Tell that story!

  23. 23
    Steeplejack says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    [. . .] I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she and I share a birthday: July 17.

    Along with Goku and John Cole’s father, I believe.

  24. 24
    Yutsano says:

    @Steeplejack: Which Goku?

  25. 25
    Amir Khalid says:

    … and David Hasselhoff. Let’s not forget The Hoff. In the context of July 17, that is.

  26. 26
    Yarrow says:

    @rikyrah: All that luggage coming in before her. Delicious. She just owned that role.

  27. 27
    Steeplejack says:


    The Goku that comments on this blog.

  28. 28
    West of the Rockies says:


    How many Gokus do you know?!?

  29. 29
    jl says:

    @West of the Rockies: ” She was my first TV crush. I was so young though, that I just wanted her to be my mom. ”

    Mine too. I don’t remember the original show, but saw the reruns after school. Did I have a huge crush on her.

  30. 30
    NotMax says:

    The Army?

    The U.S. Army also raised concerns, in an internal memo, that “Joker’s” depiction of violence could lead to a mass shooting — but then acknowledged that officials were “not aware of any information indicating a specific, credible threat to a particular location or venue.”… Source

  31. 31
    Yutsano says:

    @West of the Rockies: I was thinking of the numerous actors who have voiced Goku. I totally spaced about our esteemed colleague here.

  32. 32
    NotMax says:

    Some acknowledgment ought be made of NBC’s (long overdue) decision to include a program like Julia on its schedule.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:


    IIRC, it was quite a story, and the show was written specifically as a vehicle for Carroll. The Emmys website might have more information, or even an oral history interview.

  34. 34
    oatler. says:

    I remember when Mad Magazine parodied the next door neighbor kid as Oil E Wagonwheel.

  35. 35
    prostratedragon says:

    @rikyrah: Thanks for the find! Yes, it was amazing to see a Black woman on tv who wasn’t a maid or a walk-on (on the more daring shows), though also outrageous that it took so long. Only 10 or 20 years before it was possible to get blacklisted as a Black or White maker or actor trying too hard to change the system.

    I also looked in vain for the Peter Gunn episode, which also featured James Edwards, another pathbreaker who many might recognize from The Manchurian Candidate. That episode was Ms. Carroll’s tv debut, around the same time that she won the Tony. Another reason to somehow get a most enjoyable vintage box set.

  36. 36
    Ladyraxterinok says:


    Was 68 the same yr I Spy debuted ? Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. It was the 1st TV show with a black male in a leading role. But as it was once pointed out to me, Cosby was not THE lead—he was the sidekick.

  37. 37
    lgerard says:


    You might also look for the episode of Naked City she was in 1962, playing a teacher. I believe she was nominated of an Emmy for it.

    Amazon Prime should have it. That was interesting show starting in the second season when they recast it and extended it to an hour, there were an amazing number of guests who went on to greater things

  38. 38
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    A few years earlier: 1965-68.

  39. 39
    WereBear says:

    I remember her show from when I was a child. She was so assured, strong, and gorgeous. Made me a lifelong fan.

  40. 40
    opiejeanne says:

    @Steeplejack: And my dad, who has now left us.

  41. 41
    AxelFoley says:

    Ms. Carroll was the first black woman I remember seeing on a prime time television drama. I was like 11 years old when I saw her on Dynasty. I asked my mom, who watched the hell out of prime time soaps back then (Dallas, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, to go along with Dynasty), “Who is she?!?”

    “That’s Diahann Carroll.”

    “Man, she’s beautiful…”

    Yeah, I crushed hard on her.

    And I was still crushing on her in my late high school/early college years when she was on A Different World. I still crush on her now, rest her soul.

    Ms. Carroll was one of those women who were ageless beauties. She was intelligent, classy and sophisticated. When I thought of what it was to be a real lady, she was one of the first women that came to mind for me.

    Rest in Eternal Power, Queen.

  42. 42
    rikyrah says:

    Neisha (@NeishaSmithe) Tweeted:
    Darryl Bell talking abt how legendary it was working with so many iconic black actresses/actors while filming the 2 part Wedding Ep for A Different World…

    and a gem & eye opening revelation Ms. Carroll gave them as young artist.


  43. 43
    Steeplejack (phone) says:


    The “sidekick” thing was debunked when you brought this up a day or two ago. Cosby was an equal co-star with Robert Culp, and he won the goddamn Emmy three years in a row (1966-68) for “actor in a leading role in a dramatic series.” Is that non-sidekick-y enough?

  44. 44
    rikyrah says:

    Loved looking at the tweets left at this hashtag

    #diahann caroll

  45. 45
    zhena gogolia says:

    I adored her. I thought she was the most beautiful woman who’d ever lived.

    I guess Richard Rodgers did too!

  46. 46
    zhena gogolia says:


    Me too. She was great. It was a very different vision for both her and James Earl Jones.

  47. 47
    Zinsky says:

    Diahann Carrol was an exquisitely beautiful woman who was also very classy and humble. I don’t know what her politics were but her public-facing image was one of class, humility and grace. You don’t find that much anymore.

  48. 48
    germy says:

    The Trailblazing Power of Diahann Carroll. Good article with some interesting video links. (Including the Star Wars Holiday Special)

  49. 49
    cliosfanboy says:

    TV and race in that era are fascinating. Julia, I Spy, Laugh In, Flip Wilson, Mod Squad, Star Trek, etc. And then there was Hollywood with Blacksploitation flix. I enjoy covering this era in class

  50. 50
    Ajabu says:

    Thanks for including my close friend (and FIRST Black superstar), Flip Wilson.
    He seems to have disappeared from the public consciousness.

  51. 51
    Another Scott says:

    @jl: I don’t know if she was my first (Catwoman, Jeannie, Emma Peale), but I had a mad crush on her as well. So beautiful, so nice, and “real”.



  52. 52
    Another Scott says:

    @Ajabu: Flip was amazing. It must have been wonderful to be his friend.


  53. 53
    Annie says:

    We have not made enough progress. But we’ve made some.

    Example: in 1962, when I was 7 my adored older cousin who was in med school told me girls couldn’t be doctors.

    Now: my primary care doctor, the neurologist who fixed my migraines (well, mostly) and the orthopedist who fixed my knee are all women.

    We,are not anywhere near where we should be. But we also should not forget that we have made some progress. Saying “oh nothing has changed” can, sometimes, lead to despair and then to giving up.

  54. 54
    cliosfanboy says:

    @Ajabu: he was great. There is a good book on his career. I’ll look up the title and author if you want.

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Steeplejack (phone):

    Also, I haven’t watched the show in years, but IIRC Culp was the brash young agent and Cosby was the senior agent — his BOSS.

  56. 56
    zhena gogolia says:

    Wow, I finally watched that clip from Julia. It’s really striking that in trying to stress Lloyd Nolan’s racial “tolerance” they make him a raging sexist.

  57. 57
    zhena gogolia says:


    Too lazy to look it up, but I think you’re right, and the Cosby character just pretended to be a kind of gofer/assistant but was really calling the shots on their missions.

Comments are closed.