Mar. 26th, 1944
Detroit, Michigan, USA
5' 4 1/2
Diana Ross' Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles2002 - Standing in the Shadows of Motown
1978 - The Wiz
1975 - Mahogany
1972 - Lady Sings the Blues
Guest TV Roles
Best known as the the lead singer of the popular 1960s singing group The Supremes, Diana Ross was born on March 26, 1944, in Detroit, Michigan, the second of six children born to Fred and Ernestine. She is of African American and Native American descent. After being raised in housing projects for most of the late 1940s and early 1950s, Diana started singing in the gospel choir of a Baptist church. With friends Mary Wilson (I), Florence Ballard and Barbara Martin, she formed a vocal group, The Primettes, at age 15. After Barbara had departed the group, the remaining three girls inked a deal with Motown Records and were renamed The Supremes. Ross wasn't picked to become the group's lead singer until Motown honcho Berry Gordy decided that the time was exactly right, and from then on he described the group as "Diana Ross and the Supremes." From 1965 to 1969 the group had a string of #1 records. In late 1969 Gordy announced that Ross would be leaving the group for a solo career. In the third week of 1970 she played her last concert with The Supremes and started working with the songwriting team of Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson (I). Ross' first two songs by the team reached #1 on both the pop and R&B charts, justifying her move. Prior to starting a family of her own, she won the title role in the Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues (1972)_, which was extremely successful at the box office, and had the distinction of being nominated for an Academy Award for her first film. The movie's soundtrack reached #1 on the U.S. charts. Despite fame and fortune, her next two big films,Mahogany (1975) and The Wiz (1978), didn't meet with the same success. However, she had a #1 hit single with "Mahogany" to make up for it. In February 1976, just before another #1 hit with "Love Hangover," she was stunned when her singing partner and friend, Florence Ballard, died after complications from a combination of alcohol abuse and long-term depression, which led to cardiac arrest. Ballard was only 32 years old and Ross was devastated by the loss.
After recovering from Ballard's death, Ross went on to focus on her singing career and continued having more #1 songs, including "Upside Down". The following year she performed the theme song from Endless Love (1981), which was composed by Lionel Richie (I). That same year she left Motown Records and signed contracts with various record companies across the globe, and formed her own production company. The following year she released "Silk Electric," on which she sang "Muscles," a song written and produced by Michael Jackson (I).
After she sang a tribute song dedicated to the late Marvin Gaye, Ross scored another #1 song in 1986 in the UK with "Chain Reaction," which brought back her days as the member of The Supremes', and was written and produced by The Bee Gees. Unlike the song she sang when Florence died, this song was about how she became accustomed to Marvin over the years. After an eight-year absence, in 1989 she came back to Motown. Ross had gained more fame through concert appearances over the years, and in April 1993 she became a best-selling author with her first and only children's book, "When You Dream," which featured a CD with four songs that were dedicated to the book. That same year she was declared by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the most successful female singer of all times. Two years later she was honored with the Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement on the Soul Train Awards. After receiving those honors, she came back to the studio in 1999 with "Every Day Is A New Day," and the song reached the UK Top 10. The following year, with Mary Wilson (I)--the only other surviving original Supremes member--she planned to book a Supremes reunion tour, but this was eventually canceled.
She was arrested in 2002 in Tucson, Arizona, for driving under the influence and after pleading guilty was sentenced to two days in jail, 36 hours of counseling and one year probation. Today she is hard at work finishing her forthcoming book, "Upside Down: Wrong Turns, Right Turns and the Road Ahead."
- She and The Supremes' had appeared on _"Toast of the Town" (1948)_ (qv) (aka "The Ed Sullivan Show") 17 times from 1964-1969.
- Sister of Barbara Ross (doctor), Rita Ross (schoolteacher), Fred Ross, Jr., Arthur 'T-Boy' Ross (successful Motown songwriter), and Wilbert "Chico" Ross (a dancer on Ross' tours).
- Is the most successful female recording artist ever with 18 US #1 hits and 70 top 10 hits since 1964
- The Supremes ranked #16 on VH1's Greatest Women in Rock N Roll.
- Is one of only 7 African-American actresses to receive the Best Actress Oscar nomination. The others in chronological order are: 'Dorothy Dandridge' (qv), 'Cicely Tyson' (qv), 'Diahann Carroll' (qv), 'Whoopi Goldberg' (qv), 'Angela Bassett' (qv) and 'Halle Berry' (qv).
- Brother Arthur was murdered in Detroit in 1996.
- Classmate and former neighbors of 'Florence Ballard' (qv) and 'Mary Wilson (I)' (qv), who later joined Ross in 'The Supremes' (qv).
- Received the Lifetime Achievement Award from MIDEM in 1994