Diana Ross

(b. 1944)

After spending most of the 60s reaping massive success as lead singer of the Supremes, Diana Ross transitioned smoothly into her  next incarnation as a glitzy solo diva — and the personification of Motown boss Berry Gordy's grand crossover ambitions.

Ross and Gordy were laying the groundwork for Ross' solo career long before her departure from the Supremes was announced in November 1969. After giving her final performance with the group in January 1970 at Las Vegas' Frontier Hotel, Ross immediately scored a pair of major solo hits with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)." 

In 1972, Ross successfully launched an acting career, getting an Academy Award nomination for her starring role in the Motown-produced Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues.  She subsequently starred in Mahogany (which spawned the No. 1 hit "Do You Know Where You're Going To") and The Wiz.  Although her acting career wound down thereafter, Ross remained a frequent chart presence through the 70s and early 80s, with such hits as "Touch Me in the Morning," "Love Hangover," "Upside Down," "I'm Coming Out,” "Missing You," and the Lionel Richie duet "Endless Love."

Ross' record sales slowed in later years, but she's maintained her status as a bigger-than-life entertainment icon and in-demand live performer. She experienced a high-profile career misstep in 2000, when an attempted Supremes reunion tour faltered after her former groupmates Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong declined to work with Ross, forcing her to team up with 70s Supremes Scherrie Payne and Lynda Laurence, who had joined the group long after Ross' departure.