Diana Ross (born March 26, 1944) is an American singer, actress, and record producer. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Ross rose to fame as the lead singer of the vocal group The Supremes, who during the 1960s became Motown’s most successful act, and are the best-charting female group in US history, as well as one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time.
Diana Ross was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 26, 1944. She was the second-eldest child of Ernestine (née Moten; January 27, 1916 – October 9, 1984) and Fred Ross, Sr. (July 4, 1920 – November 21, 2007). Ross’s elder sister is American physician Barbara Ross-Lee.
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. She was listed as “Diane” during the first Supremes records, and she introduced herself as “Diane” until early in the group’s heyday. Her friends and family 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 on Belmont Road in the North End section of Detroit, near Highland Park, Michigan, where her neighbor was Smokey Robinson. When Ross was seven, her mother contracted tuberculosis, causing her to become seriously ill. Ross’s father moved with 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 four-year college and preparatory magnet school, in downtown Detroit, Ross began taking classes including clothing design, millinery, pattern making, and tailoring, as she had aspired to become a fashion designer. She also took modeling and cosmetology classes at the school and participated in three or four other extracurricular activities while being there.
Ross also worked at Hudson’s Department Store where it has been 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 raised Rhonda as his own daughter, despite knowing her true paternity. Ross told Rhonda that Gordy was her biological father when Rhonda was 13 years old. Beforehand, Rhonda referred to Gordy as “Uncle B.B.”
Ross has two daughters with Silberstein, 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, bass guitarist and singer for the band Kiss, from 1980 to 1983. They began dating after Cher, who had remained friends with Simmons following their break-up, suggested he ask Ross to help him choose her Christmas present. Simmons, in his autobiography, contends that he was not dating Cher when he met Ross. Ross ended her relationship with Simmons when he gave Ross the erroneous impression that he had resumed his relationship with Cher. Simmons’ story differed in 2015 when he revealed that he fell in love with Ross while dating Cher, which ended Ross and Cher’s friendship.
Ross met her second husband, Norwegian shipping magnate Arne Næss Jr., in 1985, and married him the following year. She became stepmother to his three elder children; Katinka, Christoffer, and folk singer Leona Naess. They have two sons together: Ross Arne (born in 1987) and Evan Olav (born in 1988). Ross and Næss divorced in 2000 after press reports revealed that Naess had fathered a child with another woman in Norway. Ross considers Næss the love of her life. Næss fell to his death in a South African mountain climbing accident in 2004. Ross remains close with her three ex-stepchildren.
Ross has six grandchildren: grandson Raif-Henok (born in 2009 to her daughter Rhonda); grandsons Leif (born on June 5, 2016) and Idingo (born 2017), born to her son Ross Næss; granddaughters Callaway Lane (born in 2012) and Everlee (born October 2019) born to Ross’s daughter Chudney; and granddaughter Jagger Snow (born in 2015 to Ross’s son Evan).
Diana Ross considers herself a Baptist. She used to sing in a church, where she gained her initial musical experience. Her mother Ernestine’s father, Reverend William Moten, served as a pastor in the Bessemer Baptist Church in Bessemer, Alabama. Diana and her siblings spent considerable time with their maternal grandparents during their mother’s bouts with tuberculosis.
Diana 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.