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Diana Ross Biography, Career, Songs, Movies, Awards, Marriages, Children

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Teenage Diana Ross started singing with her friends and later went on to become the trailblazing 1960s trio the Supremes, who had singles including “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Come See About Me.” In 1969, Ross quit the band to pursue a solo career. His later No. 1 successes included “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Love Hangover.” She also acted in the movies Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues, the latter of which earned her an Oscar nomination. Despite ups and downs on the personal and professional front, Ross has endured as a performer over the course of a more than four-decade career.

Early Life and The Supremes

Ross was born in Detroit, Michigan, on March 26, 1944. Ross, who gained a reputation as a talented performer, started singing in the Primettes as a teenager with pals Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Barbara Martin. Martin subsequently left the group, but the other members went on to become the Supremes, a globally popular R&B and pop trio from the 1960s (later named Diana Ross and the Supremes).

The Supremes were signed to Motown Records by renowned producer and label founder Berry Gordy Jr., and “Where Did Our Love Go?” became their first No. 1 hit in 1961. (1964). The three subsequently set new milestones in the music industry by being the first American group to ever have five consecutive No. 1 singles with “Baby Love” (1964), “Come See About Me” (1964), “Stop! In the Name of Love” (1965), and “Back in My Arms Again” (1965).

All told, the group had 12 No. 1 singles, including “Someday We’ll Be Together,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “The Happening,” and “I Hear a Symphony” in the 1960s (1969). As a result, they made history as the American vocal group with the most Billboard chart-topping singles.

Going Solo: Music and Movie Star

Diana Ross Songs: 1969 – 1976

In 1969, Ross left the Supremes to pursue a solo career, but the following year, with the No. 1 song “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and the Top 20 singles “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand,” he returned to the forefront of music.

Other popular songs by Ross from the 1970s included “Touch Me in the Morning” (1973), “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” (1976), and the sensual dance classic “Love Hangover” (1976), all of which peaked at No. 1 on the pop charts. Ross released a variety of albums during this time.

Movies: From ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ to ‘The Wiz’

She made her acting debut in the Billie Holiday movie Lady Sings the Blues in 1972. Although the movie got some mixed reviews, Ross’s performance earned her a nomination for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. A lot of people enjoyed the Blues music, which also sparked interest in Holiday. Ross later appeared in the movies The Wiz and Mahogany (1975), which also starred Anthony Perkins and Billy Dee Williams (1978).

Diana Ross Songs: 1980s to the 2000s

With the platinum-selling, Nile Rodgers-produced album Diana (1980), which included the No. 1 smash “Upside Down” and the Top 5 cut “I’m Coming Out,” Ross got the new decade off to a solid start. She followed that up with another Top 10 single, “It’s My Time,” before making another No. 1 with Lionel Richie on their duet from the 1981 movie “Endless Love.”

Ross released the albums Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1981), which featured two more Top 10 songs, and Silk Electric (1982), which featured the Top 10 single “Muscles,” composed by Michael Jackson. Both albums were published on Ross’ new record company RCA. Even when Ross’s sales started to decline, she kept on recording and performing. Near the end of the 1980s, she rejoined Motown Records and put out the albums Workin’ Overtime (1989) and The Force Behind the Power (1991), the latter of which saw significant success abroad thanks to its hits.

Ross released two albums in the new millennium: I Love You (2007), a collection of primarily pop songs, and Blue (2006), a jazz standards set drawn from Motown’s vaults.

Movies: From ‘Out of Darkness’ to ‘Double Platinum’

Ross had a number of television appearances throughout the 1990s. She played a woman with schizophrenia in the television movie Out of Darkness from 1994. Then, in the comedy Double Platinum (1999), Ross played a successful singer who had left her child behind to focus on her profession. Brandy, a well-known pop singer, played her daughter. Ross’s 1999 album Every Day Is a New Day included a few of the project’s songs.

Personal Struggles

Ross has also experienced personal difficulties. She got into a dispute with a security guard in 1999 at London’s Heathrow Airport, and as a result was arrested and detained for four hours before being released. In late 2002, she was arrested for driving under the influence in Tucson, Arizona, for which she later was briefly sentenced to jail.

In 2000, Ross launched a Supremes tour, which was highly criticized for excluding original member Wilson and later addition Cindy Birdsong, with there being talks of financial disputes between Ross’ and Wilson’s camps. After experiencing low attendance, the tour was canceled following a short run.

In 2007, Ross suffered a great personal loss. Her father, Fred, died in November of that year. “He touched many lives and he will be truly missed. I loved him very much,” Diana Ross said in a statement. On tour at the time, she returned home to Detroit to be with her family.


Despite her personal and professional ups and downs, Ross has withstood the test of time as a performer with a career that spans more than four decades. She has won several major awards, including a Golden Globe, a Tony and several American Music Awards. Ross was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as part of the Supremes.

In 2007, Ross received another reward for her efforts when she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Black Entertainment Television. Ross received a Kennedy Center award for her contributions to the arts later that year, just a few weeks after the passing of her father. Smokey Robinson, a singer, and Terrence Howard, an actor, were present to pay respect to the celebrity. Ciara, Vanessa Williams, and Jordin Sparks also sang a song in Ross’ honor. When it was reported that Michael Jackson had asked Ross to be an additional guardian for his children in 2009, Ross shot back into the spotlight.

Ross was nominated twelve times, but in 2012 she won the Grammy for Lifetime Achievement, making it her first ever Grammy. Ross was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, by Barack Obama four years later. She expanded her resume in 2017 when she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Music Awards.

Personal Life and Children

Ross has been married twice. In 1971, she wed Robert Ellis Silberstein, a manager in the music industry. She was married to Norwegian businessman Arne Naess Jr. from 1986 to 1999 following their divorce. Rhonda (whom Ross had with Gordy Jr.), Tracee (of Girlfriends and Black-ish fame), Chudney, Ross, and Evan are the iconic singer’s five children.

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