It was the summer of love, the summer of '67, and the summer — incidentally — that Diahann Carroll spent on Fire Island.
Part of her time in the community of Fire Island Pines was chronicled by Newsday in a multi-page spread on Saturday, August 12. The article was a breathless hosanna filled with pictures and prose ("she gives a little girl laugh and claps her hands") that giddily celebrated the occasion for all posterity.
Carroll had arrived with her 6-year-old daughter, Suzanne, and promptly explained to the reporter the ritual that has confounded weekenders since pretty much "weekenders" were invented: Finding the right house.
"When I was looking for a house on the ocean side, someone said the ugliest house on Fire Island is still available. Well, you know they were right! But it's great. You don't have to worry about anything. There's nothing to damage or break here."
In fact, the house had been the actor Montgomery Clift's summer house. He had died of a heart attack the summer before. "It's strange," she mused to reporter DeeDee Moore. "When you pick up the towel, it might have been used by him."
Carroll said she hadn't taken a vacation in a dozen years: "I'm so uptight, I really need Fire Island. I mean, I really need it."
Newsday reported that Carroll had still been quite busy that summer and would continue to be — juggling a recording session for an album, night club dates (including one at the Lido Beach Hotel), trips to the west coast to film cameos for network TV dramas.
Another nightmare had unfolded in her professional life the summer before, which the Newsday story did not refer to. In 1966, Otto Preminger filmed a movie, "Hurry Sundown," with Jane Fonda, Michael Caine and Carroll in Louisiana. There were problems on the set from the beginning. According to memoirs later published by Caine and by Faye Dunaway, who also starred and feuded with Preminger, some locals were furious about the interacial cast (Robert Hooks also starred). Tires had been slashed, and the crew had received death threats. According to one account, a burning cross appeared on the set in the middle of the night.
The movie had been released in February, 1967. The reviews were unkind.
Carroll —who had battled racial prejudice during her entire career, and who would effectively blast through the primetime racial ceiling a year later with her sitcom "Julia" — didn't mention the movie or her ordeals on set the year before.
The article duly noted the actress mixing her favorite fruit drink filled with "glugs" of champagne and vodka as she hung out with friends. She told Newsday, "I mean, have you ever seen me so relaxed in the city? Never."
Carroll insisted she would build a house on Fire Island — it's unclear if she ever even returned — but also insisted that "I'm really serious about it. I'm going to have a vacation every year from now on."