RIP Diahann Carroll — Pioneering Actress And Activist Dead At 84

Rest in peace, Diahann Carroll.

How Did Diahann Carroll Die? New Details On Death Of Pioneering Actress And Activist At 84 Getty Images

As one of the pioneering African-American actresses and activists, Diahann Carroll was considered a beauty and a treasure in her lifetime. Best known for her work on shows like "Julia" and "Dynasty," Carroll first rose to fame in films that featured all-black casts, like "Porgy & Bess." A few days ago, however, Carroll passed away — but how did Diahann Carroll die? 

Black actresses today have more than a slight debt owed to Diahann Carroll. Considered one of the first actresses to take on "non-exploitative" roles, Carroll quickly rose to fame after she starred in the Tony-winning musical, No Strings. She then translated her success on stage to the big screen with starring roles in films like Claudine (for which she earned an Academy Award nomination). Her pioneering work on Julia — in which she played the titular Julia Baker — marked the first time that a black woman was portrayed as something other than a servant on prime-time television. Later, she became known for her work on the now-legendary soap opera Dynasty


So how did Diahann Carroll die? 

Let's look at what we know about the death of this legendary actress. 

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1. She recently had a studio named in her honor by Tyler Perry. 

Much ado has been made about the recently-opened Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, GA but the biggest to-do, according to Vibe, is the fact that studio lots have all been named after pioneering black actors, producers, and other ancillary professionals in the entertainment industry. It goes without saying then, that Diahann Carroll also got a lot named after her. "As I sat reviewing her video tribute, I got a request to call her daughter when she told me of her Mother’s passing," he said in a touching dedication on Instagram. As a push of grief overwhelmed him, Perry recalled a feeling of appreciation for Carroll and her legacy," reported the outlet, who added that Perry and Carroll worked together when she starred in his production, Peeples.


2. Diahann Carroll was imprinted on pop culture's zeitgeist as Dominique Deveraux.

Remember the days of Dynasty? CBS News certainly does — and wasn't shy about telling us about how her role as Blake Carrington's uber-glamorous half-sister shook up the small screen. But even though she was best-remembered for her physical showdown with Alexis Carrington Colby (the ever-glamorous Joan Collins), Carroll made an impression on the next generation when she played the glamorous, haughty mother of Whitney Gilbert (Jasmine Guy) on A Different World.

3. She was considered an "auntie" to a whole generation of TV fans. 

Writing for The New York Times, Pierre-Antoine Louis said that Diahann Carroll was considered an "auntie" to a whole generation of television fans. "One of my favorite characters was the ruthless business entrepreneur Dominique Deveraux on Dynasty. At the time, she was the first black actress with a recurring role in a prime-time soap opera. My aunts and I lived for the shady exchanges between Ms. Deveraux and Alexis Colby, played by Joan Collins. I was mesmerized — she was a stunning, powerful black woman going head-to-head against and one-upping the biggest diva on television," he wrote.


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4. Diahann Carroll leaves behind a well-known journalist daughter. 

According to an article from People, Diahann Carroll's daughter Suzanne Kay is a well-known journalist and activist. Her father is Monte Kay, a record producer who was Diahann Carroll's first husband (she was married four times). 

5. Tributes to her poured in from all over Hollywood. 

Celebrities from all walks of life — from Halle Berry, to Kerry Washington, to even the legendary Billy Dee Williams — all took to social media to share their thoughts about Diahann Carroll, and to show their appreciation for her contributions to the entertainment industry.

6. Diahann Carroll died of breast cancer. 

Though she was a breast cancer activist throughout her life, and even survived a bout earlier on, CNN confirmed Diahann Carroll died of breast cancer. 


Our thoughts are with Diahann Carroll and her family through this difficult time.

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. For more information about Bernadette Giacomazzo, click here.