Motown legend Diana Ross has been active in music for more than 50 years. Here are seven things to know about the singer before she takes the stage at Hershey Theatre Friday night.
1. Name game
Ross’s name as we know it is actually the result of a clerical error. The oft-told story goes: Ross’s parents intended to name her Diane, but the certificate read Diana. Friends and family still called her Diane, but she adopted her accidental legal name professionally when the Supremes began to make it big.
2. Chart topper
As a solo artist, Ross had six No. 1 hits, 12 Top 10s and 40 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. With the Supremes, Ross had 12 No. 1 hits, 20 Top 10s and 45 songs on the same chart.
And Ross’s time as a chart-stopper isn’t over. In 2018 alone, she had two No. 1 singles on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart with remixes of her classic tracks: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough 2017” and “I’m Coming Out/Upside Down 2018.”
3. Famous family
While Ross’s achievements reign supreme in popularity, she has several family members who have made a name for themselves in their own right.
There’s Tracee Ellis Ross, her daughter known for her roles in “Black-ish” and “Girlfriends.” Ross’s son Evan Ross appeared in “The Hunger Games” and is a musician. He stars in “Ashlee+Evan,” an E! Network reality show with his wife, singer Ashlee Simpson.
Ross’s older sister, Barbara Ross-Lee, was the first black woman to become a medical school dean. Her younger sister, Rita Ross, ran for a state representative seat in Detroit earlier this year. (She lost by eight votes, and Ross encouraged Detroit fans on her Facebook face to write in her sister’s name on Election Day.)
4. Iconic concert
Earlier this year, Ross celebrated the 35th anniversary of her 1983 concert in New York City’s Central Park, the subject of her 2012 DVD “Live in Central Park.” The concert was planned as a benefit for the Diana Ross Playground.
Ross initially took the stage on July 21, 1983, but was able to perform for only 25 minutes before a massive lightning storm cut the show short. An approximate 450,000 people came out for the show.
“Miss Ross, dripping wet in an orange sequin bodysuit, kept singing, and between songs urged the crowd to leave slowly and not to panic,” read a New York Times article about the show. “Finally, at about 7:15, she finished singing ‘Muscles’ and left the stage.”
Ross took the stage the following evening, when 350,000 people returned to see the star.
5. Screen time
While Ross is best known for her work in the studio and on the stage, she’s also made numerous appearances in television shows and movies. In 1972, she starred as Billie Holiday in the biopic “Lady Sings the Blues.” She played an aspiring fashion designer in 1975’s “Mahogany,” and as Dorothy in “The Wiz” in 1978.
Like many celebrities, Ross has attached her name to product lines. In the ’80s, she had her own line of pantyhose, Diana Ross Ultra Sheers. In 2005, she teamed up with M.A.C. for the cosmetics brand’s Beauty Icon series. She released her first perfume, Diamond Diana, on the Home Shopping Network last year.
7. Numerous accolades
Hopefully Ross has some sturdy shelves in her house. The singer has numerous accolades. Among them, a Medal of Freedom Award (the highest honor for a U.S. citizen) presented by President Barack Obama, an American Music Award Lifetime Achievement Award, and the title of Female Entertainer of the Century by Billboard.
Despite her numerous hits, Ross never won a Grammy, unless you count her inclusion on the massive “We Are the World” track in 1986. The Recording Academy honored her in 2012 with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.