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Kate Tuttle

Born in New York City, Diahann Carroll grew up in a comfortable, middle-class home. She began singing in a church choir for children at age six, and won a music scholarship sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera when she was ten. Carroll's mother, who often took her to Broadway musicals and other performances, encouraged her to apply to New York's High School of Music and Art, which accepted her.

Carroll, who had been born Carol Diahann Johnson, took her professional name at sixteen when she appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Search, a television showcase for aspiring performers. Despite her parents' wish that she attend Howard University—she had earned money for college by modeling for Ebony magazine Carroll stayed in New York She left college after one semester at New York University to accept a long term nightclub engagement Soon thereafter Carroll went on the road ...

Article

Casey McKittrick

singer and actress, was born Carol Diahann Johnson in the Bronx, New York, the elder daughter of John Johnson, a subway conductor, and Mable, a nurse. Carroll, who had a younger sister Lydia, began performing at an early age in school plays and as a “tiny tot” in the Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir of Harlem. At age ten she won a scholarship for voice lessons at the Metropolitan Opera and later attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan alongside Billy Dee Williams.

At the age of 15, Carroll began modeling clothes for Ebony magazine. Although she enrolled at New York University to study sociology, her passion for vocal performance won out. In her early college years she won a weekly televised talent competition called Chance of a Lifetime for three consecutive weeks This national recognition spurred her bookings in New York venues beginning in ...

Article

Hilary Mac Austin

Diahann Carroll was only six when she joined the Tiny Tots choir at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. Her life appears to have been a nonstop rollercoaster ride ever since. As she said in Diahann: An Autobiography, “All I ever wanted to do was sing. What happened was more.”

Carroll grew up in Harlem, New York, although she was born in the Bronx as Carol Diann Johnson. Her parents were John and Mabel Faulk Johnson. She has one sister, Lydia, thirteen years younger. Her father was a subway conductor, and her mother, who trained as a nurse, stayed at home to raise her daughters. The household, while not wealthy, was solidly middle class.

At the age of ten, Carroll won a music scholarship through an organization affiliated with the Metropolitan Opera. At fourteen, she got her first modeling job with Ebony magazine and by the age of ...

Article

Courtney Q. Shah

singer and actress. Carol Diahann Johnson was born in the Bronx, New York. As a teenager she performed as a nightclub singer and a model while attending the famous New York High School of Music and Art. She made her film debut in 1954 in Carmen Jones, working with Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge. Paired again with Dandridge, Carroll had a role in Porgy and Bess (1959). Film and television appearances continued, including an Emmy nomination in 1963 for her work in the crime drama Naked City.

In 1968 Carroll made television history by becoming the first black actress to star in her own series. NBC's Julia received both popular praise and critical acclaim, and Carroll received an Emmy nomination in its first year. Generations of African American performers remember Carroll's Julia as a turning point providing inspiration that roles for black actors ...

Article

Stephen Bourne

Trinidadianactor and singer who settled in Britain in 1944. Two weeks after his arrival he made his debut on BBC radio in Calling the West Indies. Connor's appealing voice and charming personality endeared him to the British public, and he became a major television and radio personality. Connor saw himself as an ambassador for Trinidad and promoted Caribbean folk music and dance wherever he could. He married Pearl Nunez (also from Trinidad) in London in 1948.

For almost two decades Connor played featured roles in a number of British and American films, including Cry, the Beloved Country (1952) and Moby Dick (1956). In 1958, when Paul Robeson turned down the role of Gower in Shakespeare'sPericles for the Stratford Memorial Theatre he recommended Connor for it Connor thus became the first black actor to appear in a Shakespeare season at ...

Article

Leon James Bynum

radio and television actress, was born Ruby Jean Butler on 3 March 1900 in Wichita, Kansas, to George Butler and his wife, Nellie Simmons, though some records give 1899 as her birth year. She described her parents as immigrants from Jamaica and Mexico, yet official records indicate that they both were born in North Carolina. Her father worked at various times as a minister, school principal, janitor, grocer, and professional entertainer.

Ruby inherited a love of entertaining from her father. It was this love that inspired her to move to the Cleveland to pursue new opportunities. Shortly after arriving, Ruby met Cyril Dandridge, a clerk from a middle-class family of African American, English, and Scottish descent. After a whirlwind courtship, they married in 1919, and then moved into a large home with his mother, Florence Locke Dandridge. Ruby had two daughters by Cyril: Vivian, born in 1921 ...

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Charles Rosenberg

vaudeville, radio, movie, and TV performer, controversial for accepting a lead role in the television version of Amos ’n’ Andy, was born in Rock Island, Illinois, the son of Harry and Cynthia Wilson Moore, born respectively in Massachusetts and Kentucky. Records from earlier in his life support an 1881 date of birth, including some given by Moore himself, as well as the census, while later life references, from Moore himself and public records, support an 1887 year of birth. Absent discovery of a birth certificate, the truth may never be known for sure. His father was a day laborer, who owned the family home, and older brother Charles worked at a blast furnace. Harry, by 1900, had developed skills as a blacksmith. Younger siblings included Lilburn, Arthur, Irving, William, Hazel, Jeanette, and Essie.

Around 1898 Moore joined Cora Miskel and Her Gold Dust ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

was born Castello Randolph in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her mother was a teacher and her father a Methodist minister. Her sister was Amanda Randolph, who would later make history as the first black actor to appear in a network television series. From an early age, Lillian showed evidence of talent. She had a beautiful voice and loved to perform. Information about her early years and education is difficult to come by, but she seems to have appeared on local radio before landing in Detroit for a gig that brought her to the attention of the radio producer George Trendle, creator of the popular Green Hornet and Lone Ranger programs.

Trendle immediately recognized Randolph s potential and set about transforming her into a professional At the time black actors were expected to conform to the expectations of a white audience heavily steeped in negative stereotypes of African Americans and highly versed ...

Article

Pamala S. Deane

actor and performer, Hilda Moses was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Emil, an engineer, and Lydia Marie (Webber) Moses, a homemaker. One of twelve children, as a child she predicted to her siblings that one day she would be on the stage.

After completing her early education at St. Margaret's Academy, she graduated from South High School in Minneapolis in 1938. She studied teaching and dramatics at the University of Minnesota, having earned a two-year teaching fellowship, but she left school due to lack of funds. In 1943 she graduated from Hampton Institute, Virginia, earning a BS. At Hampton, she made her acting debut as the character Cathy in a staging of the Emily Brontë novel Wuthering Heights.

In 1941, she married Williams Simms and took on the stage name Hilda Simms Two years later she arrived in New York where she pursued ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

actress, was born Nellie (last name unknown) in Louisville, Kentucky, to Cleo de Londa and Silas Crawford Wan, a native of Hawaii who died when his daughter was young. Nellie's mother was a washerwoman whose clients included several local actresses from whom Nellie caught the acting bug. Her first performing work was in an all-black novelty act at the Buckingham Theater and New Brunswick Saloon, a high-end vaudeville and burlesque theater owned by the brothers John and James Wallen, local Democratic political bosses who ran their businesses out of the back of the theater. Nellie and her mother moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where, using the stage name Creole Nell she found vaudeville work in Over the Rhine Cincinnati s German immigrant neighborhood that was home to many breweries and theaters including vaudeville burlesque and legitimate venues She also performed at Cincinnati s dime museum one of ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

was born in Jackson, Mississippi, into a theatrical family. Her mother, Hazel, was a vaudeville performer, and Wade herself learned to sing and play organ at a very young age. When she was two or three years old, the family relocated to Los Angeles, California, where Wade attended local schools and took on small acting and performance bits beginning when she was four or five years old. Little further information about her early years is available.

By the late 1930s, Wade had taken a job as a secretary. She continued to sing as a member of the Four Hot Chocolates, a local girl‐group, and occasionally to work as a voice‐over artist in various films and cartoons. In 1946, she was hired by Walt Disney to voice several characters in what was to become the studio's controversial Song of the South feature. In 1938 or 39 she auditioned ...

Article

Robyn McGee

to Thomas Williams and Shirley Williams, both college professors. Williams is the second of three children, with an older sister, Wanda, and younger brother, Thomas. Williams left Ashbury Park at age five and spent the rest of her childhood in Ocean Township, New Jersey. Williams got her first taste of being an announcer while still a student at Ocean Township High School, announcing her brother Thomas’s Little League games over the P.A. system.

After graduating from high school in 1982, Williams attended Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts from 1982 to 1986 when she received a Bachelor s degree in Communications with a minor in Journalism She began her radio career at Northeastern University s station WRBB While still in college she was also hired as an intern at KISS 108 radio in Boston a position which consisted of being a go fer for morning personality Matt Matty in ...