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Her tangled personal life – four failed marriages, two broken engagements – could be taken straight from the plot of Dynasty, the glitzy 1980s soap in which she played Dominique Devereaux, television's 'first black bitch' and one of her best-known roles.Born in Harlem as Carol Diann Johnson – she changed her name when she was a teenager for her first singing audition – Carroll says she was treated as a 'princess' by her hard-working, aspirant parents.She is the recipient of numerous stage and screen nominations and awards, including the Golden Globe Award for "Best Actress In A Television Series" in 1968.

There comes a time where your vocal cords, they look at you and say, "We're tired." But I enjoyed doing it, I really did. At 73 she still agonises over every detail of an outfit, however casual, and adheres to the mantra that you 'cannot be a legitimate nightclub performer in sensible shoes', even after a recent tumble in a pair of perilously high aubergine leather boots.So I'm surprised, when we meet in her 17th-floor Beverly Hills flat, to see that she's sporting trousers, flat lace-ups and giant, round, black-rimmed glasses.Has the pioneering actress and singer, now into her sixth decade in the entertainment industry, finally forsworn her trademark glamour? Beneath those glasses her make-up is pristine, as is her hair – a big wig with blonde streaks.When it's time for the photo-shoot she disappears into her bedroom and emerges resplendent in a black and white sequinned jacket, chunky pearls and a figure-hugging floor-length black skirt, with sparkling stilettos peeping out from beneath the hem. The story of Carroll's enduring career is crowded with impressive feats and firsts: the first black woman to win a Tony award for best actress; the first to have her own prime-time sitcom, for which she won a Golden Globe; one of only seven black women to be nominated for a best-actress Oscar.He showered her with baubles, reportedly including a rare ruby and rose-cut diamond brooch which had once belonged to the Royal Family.‘It’s delicious,’ said Frost, of the engagement.

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