Stars We Loved & Lost in 2019: Matt Bomer Remembers Diahann Carroll
Diahann Carroll July 17, 1935–October 4, 2019
Unsurprisingly, Matt Bomer was in awe of classy White Collar costar Diahann Carroll from the start. But before the Tony and Golden Globe winner played wealthy widow June Ellington on the 2009–14 USA drama, Carroll broke barriers as the first African-American actress in a nonstereotypical role to lead a television series with NBC’s Julia (1968–71). She also sparred with Joan Collins on the original Dynasty as socialite Dominique Deveraux.
Bomer remembers working alongside Carroll and the lessons she taught him.
The first time I met Diahann was on the set of the White Collar pilot. It was like she’d walked out of a film from the ’40s. And I quickly learned she was wickedly funny as well.
I remember asking her what it was like to be the first African-American woman with her own TV show, and she said she felt like any other actor playing a role to the best of their ability. That really stuck with me — to feel as welcome at the table as anyone else.
We filmed one scene where we sang [“One for My Baby”] with the incredible Billy Dee Williams on piano. I couldn’t believe how much talent I was surrounded by. I owe a lot to Diahann. She was hugely influential to me as an artist and a person.
—As told to Jim Halterman