Happy Birthday Ms Ross!
In my world, March 26th is an unofficial holiday. Every year, in honor of this special day, I like to pay tribute to Diana Ross, the singer, the actress, the legend. Although her film and television credits are few in comparison to her music credits, they are all memorable.
Ross received critical acclaim in 1972 for her first film performance as Billie Holiday in the film Lady Sings the Blues. In his review of the film, famed critic Roger Ebert praised Ross for her willingness to transform herself for the role:
“As a gangly adolescent set out to work as a maid in a whorehouse, the diva Ross somehow manages to actually look gangly and adolescent. When she is transformed into a great beauty later in the film, it is a transformation, because she was brave enough and good enough, to really look awful at first.”
For her efforts, Ross earned a Golden Globe and received an Academy Award nomination.
Ross’ next two film roles in Mahogany and The Wiz did not garner the same critical acclaim as Lady Sings the Blues. But both films are fan favorites. In Mahogany, Ross plays Tracy, an aspiring fashion designer who has to choose between career and love. The film is full of great fashion and great music. And Tracy and Brian (Billy Dee Williams) are one of my favorite movie couple of all time.
Directed by the late, great Sidney Lumet, The Wiz is a classic in my house. The all-black version of The Wizard of Oz is considered to be one of the great financial film disasters of the time, but fans love it.
The all-star cast includes Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Richard Pryor and Lena Horne. Visually, The Wiz is colorful and exuberant. When paired with the vibrant dance numbers and the soulful music, what’s not to love about it?
The Wiz marked the end of Ross’ big screen career. However, she gave an amazing performance in the 1994 made for television movie Out of Darkness in which she portrayed a woman battling schizophrenia.
Here is a scene from Out of Darkness:
The movie is one of my favorite made for television movies. Ross was nominated for another Golden Globe Award for her performance.
I am a huge Diana Ross fan and saw her perform live in concert last year. Undoubtedly, she will go down in history as a legendary singer and performer. But I think Diana Ross is an equally talented actor. She once said,
“I’m not really a songwriter – I’m an interpreter. So in a sense, I am an actress first and foremost. I act out the songs, and I lead with my heart.”
I agree with her 100%. So to celebrate the life of the living legend, I challenge you all to take a Diana Ross Twirl Break and seize the day! Do it for Ms. Ross!
Happy Birthday, Ms. Ross