Life In Film: Diahann Carroll

A look back at the ABFF honoree's illustrious career.

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Major Achiever - Diahann Carroll will be honored with a Hollywood Legacy Award at this year’s American Black Film Festival for her contributions to cinema, television, theater and Black culture. Over a career that has spanned five decades, she has broken barriers and opened doors for Black actresses in incredible ways. Before we fete Miss Diahann at the ABFF Awards, here's a look back on her incredible career. (Photo: Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)

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Carmen Jones (1954) - Carroll made her film debut at just 19 years old in the supporting role of “Myrt” in this all-Black musical drama about a young woman (Dorothy Dandridge) who falls for a soldier while working in a WWII parachute factory. In 1992, Carmen Jones was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” (Photo: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)  

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Porgy and Bess (1959) - Carroll starred alongside two Hollywood legends — Sidney Poitier and Sammy Davis Jr. — as Clara in the film remake of the classic 1935 opera written by George Gershwin, which tells the love story between a crippled man, and a drug-addicted woman.(Photo: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)

Goodbye Again (1961) - While Carroll only had a small role as ?Nightclub Singer? in this drama, it did give her the chance to act opposite one of the greatest actresses of her era, Ingrid Bergman.(Photo: Argus Film)

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Goodbye Again (1961) - While Carroll only had a small role as “Nightclub Singer” in this drama, it did give her the chance to act opposite one of the greatest actresses of her era, Ingrid Bergman.(Photo: Argus Film)

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Paris Blues (1961) - Carroll joined a legendary cast featuring Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman and Louis Armstrong in a film that became famous for its openness about racism in America. Paris Blues won the Academy Award for Best Original Musical. In the film, Carroll plays Connie, an American tourist who at first rejects, but then falls in love with Poitier’s character, Eddie.(Photo: Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

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Hurry Sundown (1967) - Carroll once again starred alongside Hollywood legends like Jane Fonda, Michael Caine and Faye Dunaway in this film, playing Vivian Thurlow, a local teacher who tries to stall the plans of a bigoted, draft-dodging man to steal the land of a local Black families. (Photo: Paramount/Getty Images)

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The Split (1968) - Carroll starred as the wife of NFL great Jim Brown in this classic heist movie, which tells the story of a gang of thieves stealing $500,000 from the Los Angeles Coliseum during a football game. (Photo: MGM Studios/Getty Images)

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Julia (1968-1971) - This TV show made history by being one of the first series to star a Black woman in a non-stereotypical role. It was also a rarity for being one of the only sitcoms in the late 1960’s to not feature a laugh track. Carroll, who played widowed nurse named Julie Baker helped pave the way for Kerry Washington, Taraji P. Henson and many other primetime network stars by proving that a Black woman could carry a show. Carroll won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in 1969 for her role. (Photo: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)

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Claudine (1974) - Starring both Carroll and James Earl Jones, this film told the story of a single mother of six who finds love with a garbage collector. Carroll was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar and a Golden Globe for her role in the film. (Photo: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)

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Sister, Sister (1982) - Written by Maya Angelou, Carroll starred alongside Rosalind Cash and Irene Cara in this story of three sisters who come together to decide the fate of their family home. The film won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding TV Movie, Mini-Series, or Dramatic Special.(Photo: Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)

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Dynasty (1984-1987) - Carroll joined her former High school classmate Billy Dee Williams on this classic soap opera, in which she played the successful and wealthy Dominique Deveraux. Dynasty was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best TV Drama every year from 1981 to 1986, winning the award in 1984, the year Diahann joined the cast.(Photo: Harry Langdon/Getty Images)

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Eve’s Bayou (1997)  - This film, which was produced by and starred Samuel L. Jackson, was named on a list of The 25 Most Important Films on Race, by TIME. Carroll played a voodoo witch named “Elzora” in this story of a prosperous Black community in Louisiana, which falls into mayhem after an act of infidelity.(Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage)

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A Different World (1989-1993) - Carroll starred in the recurring role of Marion Gilbert, a wealthy Hillman College alumna, former Miss Hillman, and member of the Hillman Board of Trustees in this The Cosby Show spinoff.  (Photo: Joey Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images)

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The Five Heartbeats (1991) - Carroll played a groupie in this film about a fictional R&B group, loosely based of the lives of several real-life artists including The Temptations, James Brown, Sam Cooke and others. Carroll played Eleanor Potter, one of the original supporters of the group. (Photo: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images)

Soul Food (2003-2004) - Carroll played Aunt Ruthie in this Showtime drama that told the story of a Black family in Wisconsin, a spinoff of the hit movie of the same name. Soul Food was the winner of seven NAACP Image Awards, and was nominated for an Emmy in 2001.(Photo: Paramount Network Television)

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Soul Food (2003-2004) - Carroll played Aunt Ruthie in this Showtime drama that told the story of a Black family in Wisconsin, a spinoff of the hit movie of the same name. Soul Food was the winner of seven NAACP Image Awards, and was nominated for an Emmy in 2001.(Photo: Paramount Network Television)

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Grey?s Anatomy (2006-2007)  - In 2006, Carroll appeared in the Shonda Rhimes medical drama as the demanding mother of Isaiah Washington's character, Dr. Preston Burke. The show has been nominated for 25 primetime Emmy's over its 12-season run and, for one season at least, brought together two of the most significant women in television history.(Photo: ABC)

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Grey’s Anatomy (2006-2007)  - In 2006, Carroll appeared in the Shonda Rhimes medical drama as the demanding mother of Isaiah Washington's character, Dr. Preston Burke. The show has been nominated for 25 primetime Emmy's over its 12-season run and, for one season at least, brought together two of the most significant women in television history.(Photo: ABC)

White Collar (2009-2014) - Carroll guest starred in this dramedy series as charismatic widow June, who rents out her guestroom to lead character, Neal Caffrey. Carroll was nominated for and Image Award for Best Support Actress in A Drama Series in both 2012 and 2014 for the role.(Photo: USA Network) 

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White Collar (2009-2014) - Carroll guest starred in this dramedy series as charismatic widow June, who rents out her guestroom to lead character, Neal Caffrey. Carroll was nominated for and Image Award for Best Support Actress in A Drama Series in both 2012 and 2014 for the role.(Photo: USA Network) 

Tyler Perry Presents Peeples (2013) - In 2013, Carroll teamed up with Hollywood hitmaker Tyler Perry and fellow actress Kerry Washington in the family comedy. She starred as Nana Peeples, matriarch of the affluent Peeples family. (Photo: Nicole Rivelli/Lionsgate)

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Tyler Perry Presents Peeples (2013) - In 2013, Carroll teamed up with Hollywood hitmaker Tyler Perry and fellow actress Kerry Washington in the family comedy. She starred as Nana Peeples, matriarch of the affluent Peeples family. (Photo: Nicole Rivelli/Lionsgate)

The Masked Saint (2014) - Carroll most recently starred as Ms. Edna in this film which tells the story of a professional wrestler who decides to spend his days a pastor in a small town, and his nights as a masked vigilante.(Photo: P23 Entertainment, Inc)

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The Masked Saint (2014) - Carroll most recently starred as Ms. Edna in this film which tells the story of a professional wrestler who decides to spend his days a pastor in a small town, and his nights as a masked vigilante.(Photo: P23 Entertainment, Inc)