*In honor of “Throwback Thursday” and the recent arrival of Motown The Musical in the City of Angels (I know, whoever came up with that term obviously didn’t spend much time in L.A….but I digress!) It is my extreme honor to go back to the archives and pull up interviews of one of my favorite goddesses of all time, the incomparable Diana Ross.
I’ve interviewed hundreds of artists from film, television, theatre and music over the years, but surprisingly, never got the opportunity to spend time with this woman. She is still, in my eyes, a quintessential star and the rightful owner of the term, “Diva!”
Exclamation point intended.
The musical tells a lot of the story that set Diana Ross and her two girlfriends, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, into motion as The Supremes. But that story is from the perspective of Motown founder, Berry Gordy.
In part 1 of an interview on the show, “Regis and Kathie Lee” in 1993, Diana Ross had been in the industry for 30 years; a tenure even she stated, “I can’t even believe that is coming out of my mouth.”
Since its been so long since she has performed an interview, we might forget how open and giving she was. It was so much fun seeing her offer information (unlike the stars today, where you almost have to force them to talk. No judgment, these are indeed different times). As you watch the interview below (scroll down) you’ll hear Diana share details such as:
- She was actually pregnant during the filming of Lady Sings the Blues
- She and Billy Dee Williams were repped by the same manager, and she wanted to work with him again after “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972) and “Mahogany” (1975), but by then he had become such a big star that when she reached out to their manager she was told, “Oh, sorry, he’s too busy!”
And remember that benefit concert in Central Park? The one where it began to rain so hard only moments after she started singing? Then you will certainly recall the water didn’t stop the invincible Miss Ross. She didn’t give a hoot about that “black woman’s hair thang” and insisted on continuing the show in the pouring rain! The concert had been a fundraiser to build a children’s park, and in the video below Diana says yes, that playground was built and sits on 86th Street West.
Diana said although she knew she wanted to do the right thing with the fundraiser, she never realized how big it would be for her career. And states that at the time, she had never performed for half a million or more people; and on that rainy day she felt responsible for every life.
At the time of the interview, Diana’s single “The Best Days of My Life” was out. The singer revealed that although it may have seemed like some kind of sad farewell, she really did it for the fans and audiences who had bought her records over the past 30 years. Another tidbit you may not recall is, Diana actually produced that song.
Here she is in Part 1 of 2 interviews with “Regis & Kathie Lee”
In part 2 of that interview, the “Divine Miss D” was asked about working with Michael Jackson in The Wiz. Diana definitely credits Berry Gordy with discovering The Jacksons, but when questioned about her involvement with their career in the beginning, adds that she feels she gave them an opportunity for national exposure on her TV show.
This was in 1993, when MJ was first accused of molestation.
Without going into details, Ross told Regis & Kathy Lee, “I think this is a family in trouble now. And I know they are trying very hard to pull together. It’s a family in trouble and they need our prayers, you know? For the right thing to happen.”
Here she is in Part 2 of that same interview.
It’s been a pleasure walking down memory lane with Miss Diana Ernestine Earle Ross. As they said back in the day, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” And if ever there was someone who needs to come and do a Master Class on OWN, and teach the artists of today what it truly means to develop yourself in the classiest way possible, its YOU!
Continued love and respect, Miss Ross @DeBorah