Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess, she starred in 1968's Julia, one of the first series on American television to star a black woman in a non-stereotypical role. Later she created the role of Dominique Deveraux on the popular prime time soap opera, Dynasty She starred in the Broadway musical, House of Flowers. In 1959, she played Clara in the film version of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, but her character's singing parts were dubbed by opera singer Loulie Jean Norman. In 1962 she won the Tony Award for best actress (a first for a black woman) for the role of Barbara Woodruff in the Samuel A. Taylor and Richard Rodgers musical No Strings. In 1974, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Claudine.
She is the recipient of numerous stage and screen awards and nominations. Carroll has been married four times and became the mother of a daughter in 1960. She is a breast cancer survivor and activist.