Diana Ross
* March 26, 1944
United States
Solo Artist
Diana Ross (Diane Ernestine Earle Ross on March 26, 1944) is a Grammy Award-nominated American singer, performer and Oscar-nominated actress who gained prominence in the 1960s girl group The Supremes before establishing a successful solo career. During the 1970s and 1980s, she was one of the most successful female artists of the rock era, parlaying her successes into triumphs outside of the record charts, in film, television and Broadway.

In 1976, Billboard magazine named her the female entertainer of the century. The Guinness Book of World Records declared Diana Ross as the most successful female music artist to date in 1993, partly due to her eighteen American number-one singles, six of them recorded solo and the others as lead singer of The Supremes.

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Diana Ross' family moved to the Brewster-Douglas housing project when Ross was fourteen. Later the same year, Ross began her music career with Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard and Betty McGlown as the doo-wop quartet the Primettes, a sister group to The Primes. After signing to Motown Records in 1961 and replacing McGlown with Barbara Martin, they changed the name of the group to The Supremes. Barbara Martin left the group shortly afterwards, and The Supremes carried on as a trio.

Ross sang lead on all of the group's early singles, save for 1961's "Buttered Popcorn", led by Ballard. These singles were not successes, and Ross worked for a time as Motown CEO Berry Gordy, Jr.'s secretary for additional income. Feeling that Ross' distinctive soprano voice would allow the Supremes to crossover for mainstream audiences, Gordy made her the "official" lead singer of the group in late 1963. The same year, the Supremes had their first hit, the Holland-Dozier-Holland composition "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes." More H-D-H written and produced pop hits soon followed, with an unprecedented ten Supremes singles, among them "Where Did Our Love Go", "Stop! In the Name of Love", and "You Keep Me Hangin' On", becoming number one Billboard Hot 100 hits between 1964 and 1967.

By 1967 the Supremes were the most successful act on the Motown label, with Diana Ross established as the focal point of the group. 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." The group continued a frenzied pace of network TV show appearances, supper club gigs and recording time with a revolving team of producers after Holland-Dozier-Holland left Motown in late 1967. Their last H-D-H single, the psychedelic and wildly popular "Reflections" peaked at number-two for three weeks.

In 1968, "Love Child" returned the group to number-one. Hot on the heels of that hit, their duet with The Temptations, "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" went to number-two, and for the second out of three times in their career, The Supremes had two songs in the Top 10 simultaneously. Diana Ross and the Supremes became the most successful American musical group of the 1960s, and the second most successful international group of the decade, behind The Beatles.

Ross was the second of six children born to a Baptist family, Fred and Ernestine Ross in Detroit, Michigan. Her sisters Barbara and Rita did not venture into show business. Instead, Barbara Ross became a doctor, while Rita Ross became a schoolteacher. Ross' younger brother Arthur "T-Boy" Ross was a successful songwriter for Motown, composing hits for Marvin Gaye, the Jackson 5, and others alongside Leon Ware. Ross' youngest brother, Wilbert "Chico" Ross, was a dancer on Ross' tours. As a little girl, she played little league baseball, before she took tap dance and majorette lessons at Brewster Center. At age 14, she tried a part in the musical for a school play, but she was rejected. Her fortune came true when an invitation of joining The Primettes (later known as The Supremes) was by Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson, who were very good friend's of Ross's, prior to taking both fashion designing and home economics classes at Cass Technical High School. Diana graduated in 1962, and continued playing with the band, frequently.

Ross married music business manager Robert Ellis Silberstein in August 1971. After divorcing him in March 1977, Ross publicly dated actor Ryan O'Neal and rocker Gene Simmons of the group Kiss, before marrying Norwegian tycoon Arne Næss Jr. in October 1985. After a long-distance marriage, Næss made headlines in 1999 announcing his split from Ross, which was finalized in February 2000.

Ross is the mother of five children. She and Gordy are the parents of Rhonda Suzanne Silberstein (born 1971), now known as Rhonda Ross Kendrick. Ross and Robert Silberstein are the parents of Tracee Joy Silberstein (born 1972), now known as Tracee Ellis Ross, and Chudney Lane Silberstein (born 1975). Ross Arne Næss (born 1987) and Evan Olaf Næss, now known as Evan Ross (born 1988), are the children of Ross and Arne Næss.

Rhonda Ross Kendrick found fame in the television soap opera Another World, and had a brief career as a jazz singer. Tracee Ellis Ross pursued a career as a model, and later found fame as an actress: her sitcom, Girlfriends, ran on UPN from 2000 to 2006, and continues to run on The CW. Her youngest daughter, Chudney Ross, is a model, and was briefly a judge in a reality show Fame. Ross' youngest son, Evan Ross, received positive reviews for his role in the 2006 film ATL, in which he co-starred with rapper T.I.
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