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Diana Ross is known as one of the most successful singers to come out of Motown. She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and was the second oldest child of a school teacher and United States Army soldier.
Ross was introduced to Milton Jenkins at age fifteen, and she became part of his group the Primettes. In 1960, the group auditioned for Motown but was turned away due and told to return once they had graduated from high school. Undeterred, Ross returned to Motown’s headquarters daily and eventually got the group signed in January 1961. The group became known as The Supremes.
The groups first hit single was “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes,” and it hit No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. Between August 1964 and May 1967, the group lent their vocals to ten number one hit singles, leading them to become Motown’s most successful act during the 1960s.
In 1968, Ross began making television appearances as a solo artist, and by 1969, Motown executive Barry Gordy had decided that Ross should officially depart from The Supremes. Her first hits as a solo artist included “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
Ross’s film career began in 1971 with her work on the Billie Holiday biography, Lady Sings the Blues. She won a Golden Globe Award as well as Academy Award nominations for her role in the film. Her nomination along with Cicely Tyson represented the first time a black actress had been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress since Dorothy Dandridge.
Ross went on to have many more successes in her career and influenced many artists including Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Mary J. Blige. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. Rolling Stone ranks her as number 96 on the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” list.
The following video is an interview conducted by Barbara Walters with Ross at her former Hollywood home. The interview took place in 1978. Take a step back in time and hear what Ross has to say about her reputation for being difficult and her fears and loneliness.