Diana Ross

Also Credited As:

Diane Ernestine Ross
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Biography

Pop superstar Diana Ross graduated from lead singer of the most famous girl group in showbiz (The Supremes) to a solo act combining coy, feline sexuality with slick packaging. Despite obvious acting skills, however, movie stardom has eluded her thus far. She grew up in the Detroit projects, one of five children. By her late teens, she was singing in a quintet, The Primettes (distaff version of The Primes, a Motown group). In 1961, the group …
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Job Title

Actor, Music, Wardrobe, Hair & Makeup

Born

March 26, 1944

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Pop superstar Diana Ross graduated from lead singer of the most famous girl group in showbiz (The Supremes) to a solo act combining coy, feline sexuality with slick packaging. Despite obvious acting skills, however, movie stardom has eluded her thus far. She grew up in the Detroit projects, one of five children. By her late teens, she was singing in a quintet, The Primettes (distaff version of The Primes, a Motown group). In 1961, the group was down to a trio: Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard. They were renamed The Supremes and signed by Motown's star-maker, Berry Gordy Jr. Drilled in harmony and sleekly groomed, The Supremes were marketed for mass popularity.

Ross had found her niche. From the start, she seemed intent on being the supreme Supreme, and her romance with Gordy certainly didn't hinder her rise. In 1967, original lead singer Ballard was replaced and the group became known as Diana Ross and the Supremes. Between 1964-70, the Supremes helped reshape the "girl group" sound, becoming the most successful black recording artists of their day. Their danceable, hummable hits included "Where Did Our Love Go?" (1964), "Stop! In the Name of Love" (1965), "You Can't Hurry Love" (1966), "The Happening" (1967), "Love Child" (1968) and "Stoned Love" (1970).

Acting was always one of Ross' ambitions. In 1968, The Supremes (in a bizarre casting choice) appeared as nuns in an episode of the TV series "Tarzan". Ross left the group in 1971, and the following year made a smashing film debut in the Billie Holliday story, "Lady Sings the Blues". She earned an Oscar nomination for her sometimes over-the-top, but deeply felt and effective performance. Next, Ross played "Mahogany" (1975), a ghetto-born fashion diva up to her opera gloves in suds and suitors. She also designed the sumptuous costumes and sang the theme. Ross' leading man in both films was the devastatingly handsome Billy Dee Williams, and the stars' onscreen chemistry did much to help the box office.

But Ross was not able to follow-up on her early success. "The Wiz" (1978), a monumental career mistake which failed to recreate the Broadway triumph and brought the mature Ross unfavorable comparisons with Judy Garland, did nothing to turn the tide. She did a number of TV concerts, including "An Evening with Diana Ross" (NBC, 1977), "Diana Ross in Concert" (HBO, 1979), "Diana Ross ... Red-Hot Rhythm and Blues" (ABC, 1987) and contributed popular songs to such films as "It's My Turn" (1980), "Endless Love" (1981) and others. Anthologies of her many hits, with and without the Supremes, have sold well, and she continues to produce a hit song every few years.

Ross' diva-like personality, concert tours and romances have kept her in the headlines, but it wasn't until 1994 that she had to chance to display her range as an actress again. As a paranoid schizophrenic in the TV-movie "Out of Darkness" (ABC, 1994), she received rave reviews, an Emmy Award nomination and reminded her audience that she was more than just a former Supreme.

Ross proved herself again when she teamed with teen pop star Brandy for the television movie "Double Platinum" (ABC, 1999). She played the mother who abandoned her daughter at birth and the film offerred a chance for Brandy to work with a longtime idol. In 2000, Ross began a tour with the Supremes, only to terminate the tour after 12 cities. In 2002, she was set to tour again, this time in a solo venture, but checked into rehab and called off the tour before it began.

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