Diahann Carroll, Actress Who Broke Barriers With ‘Julia,’ Dies at 84

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Diahann Carroll, who more than half a century ago transcended racial barriers as the star of “Julia,” the first American television series to chronicle the life of a black professional woman, died on Friday in Los Angeles. She was 84.

The cause was cancer, her daughter Suzanne said, The Associated Press reported.

A situation comedy broadcast on NBC from 1968 to 1971, “Julia” starred Ms. Carroll as Julia Baker, a widowed nurse with a young son.

The show featured Marc Copage as Julia’s son, and Lloyd Nolan as the curmudgeonly but broad-minded doctor for whom she worked. (“Have you always been a Negro or are you just trying to be fashionable?” he asks Julia in an audacious, widely quoted line from the first episode.)

Popular with both black and white viewers, “Julia” in its first season reached No. 7 in the Nielsen ratings, the highest position it attained in its three seasons on the air.

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CreditNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Reviewing the show in The New York Times, Jack Gould noted its penchant, then par for Hollywood’s course, for “tiptoeing around anything too controversial.”

However, he added: “At all events the breaking of the color line in TV stardom on a regular weekly basis should be salutary.”

A full obituary will appear shortly.


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