Born Diane Ernestine Earle Ross
March 26, 1944 (age 71)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Singer, actress, record producer
Years active 1959–present
Spouse(s) Robert Silberstein (m. 1971–77)
Arne Næss, Jr. (m. 1986–2000)
R&B soul disco jazz pop dance
Labels Lu Pine, Motown, RCA, EMI
Associated acts The Primettes, the Supremes, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, & Lionel Richie.
Diana Ernestine Earle Ross (born March 26, 1944) is an American singer, songwriter, actress and record producer. Born and raised in Detroit, she rose to fame as a founding member and lead singer of the vocal group The Supremes, which, during the 1960s, became Motown’s most successful act and is to this day America’s most successful vocal group as well as one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time. As part of the Supremes, Ross most notably rivaled the career of The Beatles in worldwide popularity, and her success made it possible for future African American R&B and soul acts to find mainstream success. The group set a record scoring twelve number-one hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 including the hits “Where Did Our Love Go”, “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me”, “Stop! In the Name of Love”, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”, “Love Child” and “Someday We’ll Be Together”.
Following her departure from the Supremes in 1970, Ross released her debut solo album, Diana Ross, which contained the hits “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” and the number-one hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. She released the album Touch Me in the Morning in 1973. Its title track reached number 1, becoming her second solo hit. By 1975, the Mahogany soundtrack included her 3rd number-one hit “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)”. Her 1976 album Diana Ross included her fourth number-one hit “Love Hangover”. In 1979, Ross released the album The Boss. Her 1980 album Diana which reached number 2 on the Billboard albums chart and spawned the number-one hit “Upside Down” and the international hit “I’m Coming Out”. After leaving Motown, Ross achieved her sixth and final number-one hit with the duet “Endless Love”.
Ross also ventured into acting, with a Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nominated performance in Lady Sings the Blues (1972). She also starred in two other feature films, Mahogany (1975) and the The Wiz (1978); later acting included roles in the television films Out of Darkness (1994), for which she also was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, and Double Platinum (1999).
Beside ventures in Broadway, Ross was named the “Female Entertainer of the Century” by Billboard magazine. In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Ross the most successful female music artist in history due to her success in the United States and United Kingdom for having more hits than any female artist in the charts with a career total of 70 hit singles with her work with the Supremes and as a solo artist. Ross has sold more than 140 million records worldwide when her releases with the Supremes and as a solo artist are tallied.
In 1988, Ross was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as member of the Supremes alongside Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard. She is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007. She is a 12-time Grammy nominee, later becoming the recipient of her only Grammy Award to date by being honored the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
Diana Ross was born at Hutzel Women’s Hospital in Detroit on March 26, 1944. She was the second eldest child of Ernestine (née Moten; January 27, 1916 – October 9, 1984), a schoolteacher, and Fred Ross, Sr. (July 4, 1920 – November 21, 2007), a former Army soldier. Much has been made of whether her first name ends in an “a” or an “e”. According to Ross, her mother actually named her “Diane” but a clerical error resulted in her name being recorded as “Diana” on her birth certificate. Although she was sometimes listed as “Diana” during the first Supremes records, she introduced herself as “Diane” until early in the group’s heyday. Her friends still call her “Diane”. Ross’s grandfather John E. Ross, a native of Gloucester County, Virginia, was born to Washington Ross and Virginia Baytop. Virginia Baytop’s mother Francis “Frankey” Baytop was a former slave who had become a midwife after the Civil War.
Ross and her family originally lived at Belmont Road in the North End section of Detroit, near Highland Park, MI, where she was neighbors with singer Smokey Robinson. When Ross was seven, her mother contracted tuberculosis causing her to become seriously ill. Ross’ father moved his children to live with relatives in Bessemer, Alabama. After her mother recovered, her family moved back to Detroit. On her 14th birthday in 1958, her family relocated to the working-class Brewster-Douglass housing projects settling at St. Antoine Street. Attending Cass Technical High School, a three-year college preparatory magnet school, in downtown Detroit, Ross began taking up classes including design, millinery, pattern-marking and seamstress skills, as she had aspired to become a fashion designer. Ross also took up modeling and cosmetology classes at the school and at least participated in three or four other extracurricular activities. Ross also worked at Hudson’s Department Store where, it was claimed in biographies, she was the first black employee “allowed outside the kitchen”. For extra income, she provided hairdressing services for her neighbors. Ross graduated from Cass Tech in January 1962.
Ross has been married twice and has five children.
In 1965, Ross became romantically involved with Motown CEO Berry Gordy. The relationship lasted several years, resulting in the birth of Ross’s eldest child, Rhonda Suzanne Silberstein, in August 1971. Two months into her pregnancy with Rhonda, in January 1971, Ross married music executive Robert Ellis Silberstein, who chose to raise Rhonda as his own daughter. With Silberstein, Ross has two additional daughters, Tracee Joy and Chudney Lane Silberstein, born in 1972 and 1975 respectively. Ross and Silberstein divorced in 1977, and Ross moved to New York City in the early 1980s, after living in Los Angeles since Motown relocated to the area in the early 1970s.
Ross dated Gene Simmons, lead singer of the band Kiss, from 1980 to 1983.
Ross met her second husband, Norwegian shipping magnate Arne Næss, Jr. in 1985 and married him the following year. They have two sons together: Ross Arne (born in 1987) and Evan Olav (born in 1988). Ross and Næss divorced in 2000. Ross considers Næss the love of her life. Næss was later killed in a South African mountain climbing accident in 2004.
Ross has three grandchildren: grandson Raif-Henok (born in 2009 to Ross’s daughter Rhonda) and granddaughters Callaway Lane (born in 2012 to Ross’s daughter Chudney) and Jagger Snow (born in 2015 to Ross’s son Evan). In 2014, singer Ashlee Simpson became Ross’s daughter-in-law, through her marriage to Ross’s son Evan.
Ross was arrested for DUI on December 30, 2002 in Tucson, Arizona, while undergoing substance abuse treatment at a local rehabilitation facility. She later served a two-day sentence near her Connecticut estate.