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*Diana Ross was born on this date in 1944. She is a Black singer and entertainer.
From Detroit, Michigan, Diana Ernestine Ross was the second of six children born to a Baptist family of Fred Ross and Ernestine Moten in Detroit, Michigan. Her sisters, Barbara and Rita, did not enter show business; instead, Barbara Ross became a doctor, while Rita Ross became a schoolteacher. Younger brother Arthur "T-Boy" Ross was a successful songwriter for Motown.
Ross grew up next door to Smokey Robinson. When Ross was seven, her mother contracted tuberculosis, causing her to be seriously ill. Ross's father moved his children to live with relatives in Bessemer, Alabama. After her mother recovered, her family moved back to Detroit when Ross was fourteen years old and lived in the Brewster-Douglass projects.
In 1962, she graduated from Cass Technical High School. The following year, Ross began her music career with neighborhood friends Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Betty McGlown as the Primettes, a sister group to local act The Primes (later The Temptations). After signing to Motown Records two years earlier and replacing McGlown with Barbara Martin, the Primettes changed the group's name to The Supremes. Barbara Martin left the group shortly afterward, and The Supremes carried on as a trio. In 1963, the Supremes had their first hit, “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes."
By 1967 the Supremes were the most successful act on the Motown label, with Ross established as the group's focal point. That year, Florence Ballard was replaced by Cindy Birdsong of Patti LaBelle & the Blue Belles, and the group's name was changed to "Diana Ross & the Supremes." Motown began plans to have Ross start a solo career in 1968. With the start of her solo career, Ross introduced Motown's newest act, The Jackson 5, to national audiences. "Someday we’ll Be Together" was issued as the final Diana Ross & the Supremes release. After a half-year of recording material with various producers, Ross settled with the production team of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.
In May 1970, Diana Ross was released on Motown. Soon after came her second album, Everything is Everything. That year, Ross hosted her first solo TV special with guest appearances by The Jackson 5, Bill Cosby, and Danny Thomas. By this point, Motown Records had relocated to Hollywood. Berry Gordy decided it was time the company ventured out to develop a motion pictures company and set his sights on making Ross a movie star. In late 1971, it was announced that Diana Ross would play jazz icon Billie Holiday in a Motown-produced biographical film loosely based on Holiday's autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues. Opening in October 1972, Lady Sings the Blues was a phenomenal success, and Ross' performance drew universal rave reviews. The performance won her a Golden Globe for Best Newcomer, and the soundtrack album for Lady Sings the Blues went to the number-one album on the Billboard 200 for two weeks and reportedly sold 300,000 copies during its first eight days of release. Ross also appeared in the movie The Wiz in 1978
Ross married music business manager Robert Ellis Silberstein in August 1971. After divorcing him in March 1977, she married Norwegian tycoon Arne Naess Jr. in October 1985. They divorced in 2000. Ross is the mother of five children. She and Gordy are the parents of one. Ross and Robert Silberstein are the parents of two. Ross and Naess are the parents of two. On November 16, 2016, Ross was among the 21 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, the nation's highest civilian honor.
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