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Wednesday, September 22, 1999 Published at 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK


Supreme queen of pop

Diana Ross is known worldwide as one of pop's most enduring talents

It has been a tough year for pop legend Diana Ross.

Her arrest for alleged assault comes months after the end of her marriage to Norwegian shipping magnate Arne Naess.

Ross's second husband announced the end of their 13-year marriage on Norwegian television in April.

[ image: Diana Ross after her arrest for alleged assault]
Diana Ross after her arrest for alleged assault
It was a great shock to Miss Ross - as she insists on being called - and for several weeks the story was in the news.

But the 55-year-old singer is usually only cause for comment because of her long-lasting success.

For almost 35 years she has been one of world's best-loved pop divas. Around the world, she has hardly been out of the charts.

From the Supremes in the 1960s through to her solo career, she has amassed a string of hits, pursued an Oscar-winning acting career, and had five children.

On top of that she has maintained the kind of youthful, chic looks that women half her age battle to achieve.

Born in Detroit, Michigan into a large aspirational working family, Diana Ross was born with ambition in the blood.

Still only 15, she joined Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson to became the third member of The Primettes.

From the beginning she set her sights high and urged neighbour Smokey Robinson to help the group get a deal with top local R 'n' B label Motown.

It was not to be, however, and The Primettes had to wait until 1960 when Motown head Berry Gordy finally signed them up.

He changed their name to The Supremes, honed their image and, recognising Ross's star quality, made her the focal point of the group.

It took four years for stardom to come but it was worth the wait. The Supremes' first US hit Where Did Our Love Go? in 1964 marked a run of five US number ones, including You Keep Me Hangin' On, all penned and produced by the Holland, Dozier and Holland team.

[ image: Diana Ross in the 1970s was an instant success as solo artist]
Diana Ross in the 1970s was an instant success as solo artist
Ross was undoubtedly the focal point to the group's simple dance songs and breathy vocals. She was also Berry's favourite and the two became lovers.

For years she pretended that her daughter Rhonda was that of her first husband, Los Angeles press agent Robert Silberstein.

She and Silberstein had two more children, but the marriage broke down after six years in 1976.

Meanwhile, Ross was on the up and up. The Supremes became Diana Ross and The Supremes.

Then in the 1970s, Ross became a solo star with the US number one 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough. In 1971, I'm Still Waiting went to the top of the UK charts.

She was an actress too, gaining an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of tragic jazz singer Billie Holliday in Lady Sings The Blues in 1972.

But romantic ballads like Touch Me In The Morning and You're A Special Part Of Me remained her forte.

A second film role in Mahogany resulted in a third US number one, after which she changed direction in 1976.

She successfully re-invented herself for the disco age with Love Hangover in 1977.

In 1980 she teamed up with a new talent, Nile Rodgers from Chic, to produce the album Diana. It gave Ross her biggest hit in years with Upside Down.

[ image: Diana Ross in 1997: She has managed to re-invent herself over the years]
Diana Ross in 1997: She has managed to re-invent herself over the years
In 1981, Ross left Motown and gradually faded from view until she had the distinctly Supremes-like hit Chain Reaction in 1986.

But by the 1990s the hits were tailing off. But her live performances have continued to win acclaim.

Her relationship with Arne Naess had always been unconventional. They lived on separate continents, despite having two children, Ross, 11, and Even, 10.

But despite the heartache, the split seemed to fuel something of a resurgence in Ross's creative career.

Her forthcoming album Every Day Is A New Day is said to draw on her recent emotional turmoil and to be some of her best work for years.

Before her arrest, she had been discussing how to promote her new work in the UK with record company executives.

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