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Carroll Pens New Memoir, Details Romance Issues

Shantella Y. Sherman | 8/27/2009, 5:44 a.m.

It is almost impossible to think of Diahann Carroll and not envision grace, beauty and talent. Many remember the list of award-winning roles that she has portrayed, not to mention the famous men she has dated over the years. Her list of suitors has become as legendary as Carroll herself: actor Sidney Poitier, crooner Vic Damone, journalist Robert DeLeon, and British talk-show host David Frost. Yet, in her new memoir, Carroll reveals that she was often the victim of mental and emotional abuse.

In €The Legs Are the Last to Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying and Other Things I Learned the Hard Way,€ Carroll re-examines her life and shares her disappointments and sorrows. The 74-year-old actress admits that her own well-being often took a backseat to the whims of the men with whom she associated. And, while she only provides a few details about her affair with Poitier, a liaison that led to the end of her first marriage, Carroll explores her attraction to unhealthy relationships.

€I€m a terrible romantic, just ridiculously so. It€s immature, my romanticism. It will not sustain a relationship. I know that now,€ Carroll said.

€I think I could have been a good wife at some point, but obviously I didn€t need that as much as I need my work.€

That romanticism left Carroll standing in her underwear in the middle of her hotel room waiting for her lover to return. The man, a fellow actor and alcoholic, told her in no uncertain terms that he would let her know when she could leave.

€He closed the door and I heard him locking it from outside with a key. I remained there for hours, waiting passively. He didn€t come for me until the next day. But I never screamed, €How dare you!€ or that we were finished. This was definitely a lack-of-self-esteem issue,€ she writes.

Carroll writes that being nave in love and in her career choices led to the loss of friendships. Today, she has a clearer understanding. She writes about singer Pearl Bailey befriending her and then later feeling threatened by the young aspiring actress to the point that she sabotaged a performance with Carroll.

€I€ve gotten older now and I understand it. Youth can be very, very threatening. And, I was very young,€ Carroll said.

As for remaining a sex symbol well into her 70s, Carroll said that she is excited that she is still thought of in that regard.

€I get my share of calls to sing in lovely venues, and still know the pleasure of standing on a well-lit stage performing. Sometimes, I am invited to accept an award. But that doesn't mean there are not plenty of days when I feel completely passed over and passed by,€ Carroll said.

€Well, I imagine that€s how many people feel when their high-powered careers slow down. Performers, of course, have to deal with droughts and doubts all the time, even when young. It€s a tough field. You€re in; you're out. You€re right for something, you€re wrong. You have to learn to live with rejection and curdled ambition on a daily basis, especially if you happen to be female,€ the actress said.

Carroll enjoyed a recurring role on ABC€s €Grey€s Anatomy,€ as Jane Burke, the demanding mother of Dr. Preston Burke portrayed by Isaiah Washington during season three of the Emmy-award winning show. In addition to promoting her memoir, Carroll said that she is living her life to the fullest.

€If I look back on my life, I get a sense of accomplishment and gratification. When I look forward, I see a beautiful horizon, an unpredictable horizon. I€m happy about that,€ Carroll said.